How to Answer a Summons for Debt Collection - The Ultimate 50 State Guide

George Simons

August 19, 2019

How to Answer a Summons for Debt Collection - The Ultimate 50 State Guide   

How to Answer a Summons for Debt Collection - The Ultimate 50 State Guide

     

Don't just roll over and take it. Fight back. 

We want to help you win your debt collection lawsuit, not pay money that you don't owe, and protect your wages from garnishment. 

That's why we put together this guide for how to answer a summons for debt collection in all 50 states. 

Debt collection lawsuits are difficult to navigate, partly because the relevant laws change from state to state. So we've compiled the most relevant information for each all in one spot. Now you don't have to crawl your state courts' website looking for this information, because, trust me, it's a nightmare. 

For each state, we provide 

  • the deadline for filing your answer to the summons and complaint 
  • the most relevant official answer form available in that state. 

Some states don't have answer forms so we've linked to other helpful forms and tidbits where we can. 

Just click on the Answer Form for your state, download it, and fill it out. Some of them are form fillable, some aren't. Some states allow for e-filing, some you have to snail mail in. 

So, without further ado, this is how you answer a summons for debt collection in any of the 50 states (and the District of Columbia). 

Alabama

Deadline

Small Claims Court – 14 Days

District Court – 14 Days

Circuit Court – 30 Days

Forms

Defendant's Answer Form

Civil Forms

Small Claims Forms

E-file

Alaska

Deadline

20 days

Forms

Answer Form

Arizona

Deadline

20 days - if you were served in Arizona

30 days - if you were served outside of Arizona

Forms

Answer (For lawsuits under $10k)

Answer (For lawsuits over $10k)

E-filng (Civil)

E-filing (Small claims)

Arkansas

Deadline

30 days

Forms

Online Answer Form

California

Deadline

30 days 

40 days if the documents were served on someone else in your household or they were mailed to you. 

Other exceptions

Forms

The General Denial Form

Answer Form

Colorado

Deadline

21 days

Forms

Answer Form

Connecticut

Deadline

30 days of the return date

Forms

Answer Form (Civil Only)

Other Forms

Delaware

Deadline

20 Days

Forms

Answer Form

Other Forms

District of Columbia

Deadline

21 days

Forms

Answer Form

Other Forms

Florida

Deadline

20 days

Forms

Answer to Complaint Sample Form

Georgia

Deadline

30 Days

Forms

Online Debt Collection Guide

Hawai'i

Deadline

20 days

Forms

Other Forms

Idaho

Deadline

20 days

Forms

Small claims Answer Form (It's form fillable!)

Civil Answer Form

Helpful brochure

Illinois

Deadline

Appear in court, then you have 10 days to file an answer.

Answer to Complaint Forms

Answer/Response to Complaint/Petition

More Forms

Indiana

Deadline

20 days (with exceptions)

Answer to Complaint Forms

United States District Courts Southern District of Indiana Answer Form

E-file

More Forms

Iowa

Answer to Complaint Forms

How to Respond

E-file

Other Forms

Kansas

Deadline

21 days

Forms

Defendant's Claim (Small Claims)

Answer Form

Other Forms

Kentucky

Deadline

20 days

Forms

No Answer Form available

Counterclaim

Louisiana

Deadline

15 days

Forms

No Answer Form available

Maine

Deadline

20 days

Forms

Other Forms

Maryland

Deadlines

Served in Maryland - 30 days

Served in another state - 60 days

Served outside of the United States - 90 days 

Answer to Complaint Forms

Answer Form

Other Forms

Massachusetts

Deadline

20 days

Answer to Complaint Forms

Instructions for writing an answer

Online Answer Form

Other Forms

Even More Forms!

Michigan

Deadline

21 days

Answer to Complaint Forms

Answer (Civil)

Other Forms

Fees

No fee

Minnesota

Deadline

20 days

Answer to Complaint Forms

Answer Form (Civil)

Response to Conciliation (Small Claims)

Mississippi

Deadline

30 days

Forms

No Answer Form available

Other Forms

Missouri

Deadline

30 days

Form

No Answer Form available

Other Forms

Montana

Deadline

21 days

Answer to Complaint Forms

No answer form for small claims

District Court Answer Form 

Counterclaim

Nevada

Deadline

20 days

Answer to Complaint Forms

Answe Form for Washoe County

Other Forms

New Hampshire

Deadline

30 days

Forms

Other Forms

New Mexico

Deadline

30 days

Forms

Other Forms 

New York

Deadline

20 days - if served personally (documents were handed to you by another person)

30 days - served in any other way

Answer to Complaint Forms

NYC Answer Form

Answer for Consumer Credit Transaction

E-file

North Carolina

Deadline

30 days

Forms

Other Forms

North Dakota

Deadline

20 days (small claims)

21 days (civil)

Forms

Answer Form (Small Claims)

Answer Form (Civil)

Other Forms

Ohio

Deadline

28 days (with exceptions)

Forms

Other Forms (For Ashtabula County)

Oklahoma

Deadline

20 days

Forms

Other Forms

Oregon

Deadline

30 days

14 days – if you are sued in small claims court

Forms

Defendant's Response Form

Defendant's Response

Consumer complaint form

Other Forms

Can eFile 

Fees

$55

Helpful links

What to do if you're sued by a creditor

Pennsylvania

Deadline

20 days (If you don't respond in that period, the person suing you must send you a letter saying that in 10 days they will request a default judgment.)

Forms

No Answer Form available

Rhode Island

Deadline

20 days

Answer to Complaint Forms

Answer Form (Small Claims)

Other Forms

South Carolina

Deadline

30 days

Answer to Complaint Forms

Civil Answer Form

Other Forms

Tennessee

Deadline

State Court: 30 days

Federal Court: 20 days

Form

Other Forms

Texas

Deadline

This one is complicated. Generally, you have 20 days plus until the following Monday, at 10 am to file an Answer. Count all the calendar days including weekends and holidays. 

Answer to Complaint Forms

Defendant's Answer

Online Guided Defendant's Answer

Other Forms

Fees

Free

Utah

Deadline

 21 days – if served in Utah 

30 days – if served outside of Utah

Answer to Complaint Forms

Answer Form

SoloSuit.com  

Vermont

Deadline

30 days of the date the Complaint was mailed

Forms

Answer Form (Small Claims)

Other Forms

Virginia

Deadlines

21 days

Forms

Other forms

Washington

Deadline

20 days

Answer to Complaint Form

Online form

West Virginia

Deadlines

21 days

Answer to Complaint Forms

Answer Form

Other Forms

Wisconsin

Deadline

20 days (45 days for some torts)

Answer to Complaint Forms

Answer and Counterclaim (Small Claims) (Summary)

More forms

Wyoming

Deadline

20 days – if served in the state

30 days – if served outside of the state 

Forms

Other Forms