How to Answer a Civil Summons in Kentucky

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When an individual files a civil lawsuit against you in Kentucky, the Commonwealth sends you a summons and complaint. The complaint informs you why you’re being sued. The summons provides additional information such as the plaintiff’s name, county and court where the plaintiff filed the lawsuit. Kentucky requires you to respond to the summons and complaint if you want a chance to defend yourself in the lawsuit. Although Kentucky affords approximately 20 days to write an answer responding to the plaintiff’s lawsuit, the Commonwealth has different rules to respond to the civil summons.

Understand the difference between the complaint and civil summons. The complaint requires you to draft a written response and send it to the clerk of courts. A civil summons informs you of the time to appear in court.

Read More: How to Draw Up a Summons

Read the summons and complaint. The summons tells you important information, including the plaintiff’s name, the court where the plaintiff filed the lawsuit and the date you must file the answer. You need the information to prepare your answer.

Prepare a defense. To prepare to appear in court, prepare a defense to the lawsuit. A legal defense provides you with the reason why you’re not responsible for paying back the debt or returning property.

Appear in court. Go to the local court at the date, time and location indicated on the summons. The court expects you there – in person – to prove your case.

Provide a legal defense. After you arrive at the hearing, explain the facts of your case. You may have to refute the plaintiff's argument.


  • Don’t write a written answer and not appear in court. Kentucky requires you to file a written answer and appear in court to defend yourself in the lawsuit. If you don’t appear in the court, the judge presiding over the case issues a default judgment. A default judgment indicates that you agree with the plaintiff’s case, and owe the money, because you failed to appear in court to prove your case.

    You must appear in court, as indicated on the summons. The court doesn’t care if you live in another Kentucky city or outside the commonwealth or have another appointment at that time.

    Don’t use disparaging words or name calling to describe the plaintiff when you appear in court. Instead, focus on explaining to the judge why he should rule in your favor.


  • Send the answer to the complaint to the county that sent you the summons, regardless of where you live. For example, if Kenton County sent you the summons and complaint, send your answer to the clerk of courts office there.

    In addition to sending you answer to the complaint, you must also send a paper indicating that you sent a copy of the answer to the plaintiff. Also, you have to indicate on what day and how you sent it. For example, you may write “The answer was sent to (plaintiff’s name) on (month/day/year) by ordinary mail.”

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