If you receive a complaint or summons from court, you are required to file an “answer” within a certain number of days. Your answer includes a defense of yourself and statement of your case. The summons lists the number of days you have to answer the complaint. If you do not answer, the other party may win a default judgment. Depending on the lawsuit, an answer can be complicated, and you may want to find a lawyer or low-cost legal service in your area before filing it.
Read over the complaint carefully. The complaint will have numbered paragraphs with each charge. Address each issue in your answer.
Format your letter as a business letter. Write your address and date at the top of your letter on the left-hand side.
Add a “caption” on the top of your letter that contains all of the information found on the complaint. Include the court’s name and address, the other party’s name and address and the court file number.
Type the word “Answer” underneath the caption. Number the paragraphs in the same format found on your complaint. Provide an answer to each complaint, either admitting that it is true or deny the charge. If you deny it, provide a short explanation.
Add your own numbered paragraphs with your counter arguments. If you agreed to any of their charges, this is the place to explain why you still do not think you owe money. Point out in these paragraphs any affirmative defenses. Affirmative defenses state that you believe you should win the case even if the charges are true, such as if the other party made a procedural mistake.
Sign the answer. Make at least two copies of it and keep one for your records. Mail or take the original answer to the courthouse and file it with the court clerk. Mail a copy of the answer to the other party involved in the court case. Mail the answer directly to the attorney if the other party is represented by a lawyer.
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