How to Answer a Summons for Debt Collection in Florida

George Simons

September 25, 2019

How to Answer a Summons for Debt Collection in Florida (2019 Guide)

“I heart debt lawsuits!” — said no one ever.

Getting sued for a debt is terrible. This article will make the process of responding to a debt lawsuit a little bit easier and tell you how to answer a summons for debt collection in Florida.

Below, you'll find helpful topics on how to answer a summons for debt collection in the Sunshine State. This list includes information specific to filing in Florida, like state deadlines and forms.

Florida Deadline for Answering a Debt Collection Summons

20 days - Count twenty days starting with the day after you are served, and count every day, including Saturdays and Sundays.

Florida Answer to Summons Forms

Sample Answer Form - Sorry Floridians, but the Florida Court's form for responding to a debt collection lawsuit is pretty terrible compared to other states. But at least Florida is doing better than Wyoming which doesn't even provide a form. But then again, does Wyoming even have any people?

Steps to Respond to a Debt Collection Case in Florida

All lawsuits formally start the same way: you get two documents in the mail or via personal delivery. These documents are called the Summons and Complaint. In Florida, you have only 20 days to respond by filing an Answer. You can respond with either an Answer document or a Motion; usually, you'll want to respond with an Answer document.

If you don't respond within the 20 day period, you will automatically lose your case by default judgment.

There are three steps to respond to the complaint.

  1. Answer each issue of the complaint
  2. Assert affirmative defenses
  3. File one copy of the Answer document with the court and serve the plaintiff with another copy.

Let's take a look at each step.

1. Answer each issue of the Complaint.

Many people are intimidated by making an Answer document. And that's ok. These instructions it will be simple. Just read the complaint and then decide how you want to respond to each numbered paragraph. You can respond in one of three ways:

  • Agree
  • Disagree
  • I don't know

Just choose one of these answers and write it into your Answer. If you choose “disagree” you can explain why you disagree.

Use these official instructions to make your complaint in Florida. The Florida Answer form is fairly bare-bones. Many attorneys recommend making a general denial, where you deny everything in the complaint and force the other side to prove everything.

2. Assert affirmative defenses.

To assert affirmative defenses, you simply state reasons why the person suing you has no case. Add the relevant defenses to your answer.

Here are some of the more common defenses we see:

  • The account with the debt is not your account
  • The contract was already canceled. Therefore you don't owe the creditor anything.
  • The statute of limitations has expired. A statute of limitations is a law that sets a deadline on an action. In this case, the statute of limitations sets the deadline at 6 years, so you can't be sued for a debt based on a contract from six years ago.
  • The debt has been paid or excused.
  • The debt has been partially paid.
  • You were a co-signer but were not informed of your rights as a co-signer.

These are a few of the many affirmative defenses. Being unable to pay the debt is not normally a legal defense to the debt.

You can just write these in on the Florida answer sheet.

3. File the answer with the court and serve the plaintiff.

Actually filing the answer is tough. Some people get hung up here, but most preserver and file the answer.

Here's what you need to do.

  • Print two copies of your Answer
  • Mail one copy to the court
  • Mail the other copy to the plaintiff's attorney.

The address for both should be in the Summons and Complaint you received in the mail. The attorney's address should be on the top left of the first page. The court's address should be in the first two paragraphs.

The Finale on How to Answer a Summons for Debt Collection in Florida

So, in short, here's the review on how to answer a summons for debt collection in Florida.

  • Deadline: 20 days
  • Use Florida's Answer form

Do these steps:

  1. Answer each issue in the complaint.
  2. Assert your affirmative defenses
  3. File and serve the Answer