What happens if you fail to answer a summons to appear in court for debt collection?

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What happens if you fail to answer a summons to appear in court for debt collection?

I just received a summons to appear in civil court in NY for past due student loan debt. The summons is dated 4 months ago but I just received it because I currently live in Sweden and my mail is forwarded to me every several months. I am going to NY next week to hopefully clear this up if possible but I was wondering if you could please give me any tips as to what actions I need to take now.

Asked on June 9, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, New York

Answers:

S.J.H., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Chances are the creditor has received a judgment on default already against you and can begin to colect on the Judgment. I am not sure if this was a small claims action or a civil court action. Since it sounds like you did not have a date certain on the summons, you were sued in the civil part. This means that you have 30 days to respond. If you do not respond, you are then have to be given a second summons with an additional 30 days to answer. If you fail to answer, the creditor can seek a default judgment. You need to go to the court to see if a Judgment has been rendered. If so, you then have to immediately file an order to show cause to vacate the default judgment. You need to things- one a reason for not appearing and a meritorious defense. THe reason for not appearing is simple, you moved to Seden and did not get the mail until it was too late. Show proof of the Swedish residence or that you are there temporarily. Second, you must show a defense- this is done by saying that you were not properly credited for payments and the amount sued for is off. You then will be given instructions on how to serve it. If the case has not gone to Judgment you can call the attorney to see if a settlement can be worked out or file an answer with the court right there.  


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