How to Answer a Summons for Debt Collection in New Hampshire (2020 Guide)

George Simons

June 17, 2020

Summary: Do you live in New Hampshire and need help responding to a debt collection lawsuit? You can use SoloSuit to guide you through the process in New Hampshire.

It can be pretty stressful to find out you're being sued by a debt collection agency in New Hampshire. Chances are if you are behind on repaying a debt that you're already working as hard as you can to make ends meet and cover your expenses so there's no extra money to hire legal assistance. You might feel intimidated about responding on your own and tempted to just ignore the whole thing, but if you do you'll end up in an even worse financial circumstance.

Both SoloSuit and the information in this article can make the process of responding to a lawsuit a little less scary by going over each step for responding to a debt collection lawsuit in New Hampshire. Below we will include New Hampshire specific deadlines and forms to draft and file your response more easily than you currently can imagine.

Table of Contents

New Hampshire Deadline for Answering a Debt Collection Summons

In New Hampshire the deadline for responding to a debt collection claim is 30 days. If you do not respond within that time period, then you will lose the case by inaction. The Court will issue something called a default judgment, which means that the plaintiff (the debt collection agency who filed the lawsuit) wins the case and you have no more opportunity to refute any of the allegations in the Complaint (such as whether you owe the debt or the amount.)

The next step in New Hampshire is to require a payment plan hearing (by filing a Motion for Periodic Payments) in court to determine the repayment schedule. If you did not respond within the 30 day timeframe you won't be able to contest the amount owed or anything else at that hearing. By filing your response before the deadline runs out you are preserving all of your rights in this matter, and have the best chance to make any arguments if this isn't your debt or the amount is unreasonable.

New Hampshire Answer to Summons Forms

You can use SoloSuit to generate your Answer, or you can do it on your own using the forms below.

The New Hampshire court system provides online forms so that you can fill in the required information in your response, already in the proper format. The response forms are different depending on which court you are being sued in. Any debt collection lawsuit will be in either the Circuit Court District Division (civil claims up to $25,000) or Small Claims Court (value up to $5,000.) Use the Summons and Complaint to determine which court you are in, then use the corresponding form below:

New Hampshire Circuit Court Answer Form

Response to Small Claims

It is important to note that In New Hampshire you must also file an Appearance within the 30 day timeframe. Do not forget this step!

If you decide to go with SoloSuit, we will take care of the work for you by creating your Answer and filing it on your behalf. All you will need to do is answer a few questions online. In addition, an attorney will review the completed Answer to verify that everything is in proper order.

Answer Filing Fees for New Hampshire

You can find filing fee information here for the Circuit Court- Division District

Steps to Respond to a Debt Collection Case in New Hampshire

The debt collection lawsuit against you begins when you are served the Summons and Complaint. In New Hampshire you have 30 days to respond by filing either an Answer or a Motion. An Answer is almost always sufficient, whereas Motions get more complicated and may require legal expertise.

If you fail to respond within the 30 day period you will lose the case by inaction, and the court will file a default judgment against you and grant the plaintiff a Motion for periodic payments. To avoid this outcome simply follow the four steps below:

  1. Create an Answer document
  2. Answer each issue of the complaint
  3. Assert affirmative defenses, if any
  4. File one copy of the Answer document with the court and serve the plaintiff with another copy.

1. Create an Answer Document.

Your first step is to create your Answer document which contains all of the relevant information from the Summons and Complaint, including the following:

  • Your personal information including name and address
  • Information about the plaintiff, including the name of the company and attorney filing on their behalf.
  • Court information included in the caption, such as the name and address of the court, the proper district, and the assigned case number

SoloSuit can help you collect the information and format it for you

2. Answer each issue of the Complaint.

The New Hampshire court system offers online forms to create your Answer document when you have been sued. At the top you should fill in the Court name, case name and case number. The Court will either be the Circuit Court District Division (for lawsuits up to $25,000) or Small Claims Court (for lawsuits up to $5,000.)

If you are being sued in District court you can use this fillable pdf form to create your Answer document. After you fill in the court information there is a checkbox for you to request a jury trial or bench trial. Most debt collection cases are simply before a judge (or bench trial.) Fill out your personal information, and then answer each numbered paragraph of allegations in the Complaint. The form allows for only answers to the first three numbered paragraphs so you will likely need to print out or copy additional pages to answer the entire Complaint.

You should answer each numbered paragraph with one of the following three responses:

  1. Admit
  2. Deny
  3. Unable to Admit or Deny for lack of information

You can admit facts that are true, such as your name or account number. You should deny any allegations that are untrue, and if you don't have information to properly answer an allegation (such as plaintiff's debt collection agency is incorporated in X state) use the third option. There is also space for you to add an explanation or affirmative defense where appropriate. We will discuss affirmative defenses in detail later in this article.

You will sign the document on the second page and should fill in the top back for “non e-filed cases” as you will be mailing out the response rather than electronically filing online.

If you are being sued in Small Claims Court (which should be clear again from your Summons and Complaint and the amount of debt) you can use this fillable pdf form for your Answer instead. Here again you fill out the court information at the top from the Summons and Complaint, followed by your personal information under “Defendant name” etc. Next you should check a box in Section A to indicate which option you intend to pursue:

  1. Request for Court Hearing
  2. Claim Not Disputed/Payment of Claim (after which a payment hearing will be scheduled to determine a payment schedule)
  3. Request for Jury Trial in Superior Court (only available for claims over $1,500.)
  4. Bankruptcy Filed

You should then move on to Section B if you are pursuing any Counterclaims (more on this in the next section) or Section C if you are filing this on behalf of another person or entity.

For both Answer forms make sure to also file an Appearance within the 30 day timeframe as required by New Hampshire court rules.

SoloSuit makes it much easier to respond properly to each paragraph.

3. Assert affirmative defenses.

The next step in your Answer is typically to assert your affirmative defenses, if any. Affirmative defenses are any reasons why this case against you is not valid. These affirmative defenses are all set forth in the New Hampshire Court Rules of Civil Procedure, and we will discuss a few of the most common below. Please note, however, if you are using the New Hampshire Answer form you will be listing any affirmative defenses in the same numbered paragraph response as your response to the Complaint.

Common affirmative defenses:

  • Accord and Satisfaction - this refers to a situation where you have paid some of the debt in full satisfaction of the total. Most likely this would be through an agreement you made with the original creditor that might avoid additional costs, like state of New Hampshire debt collection fees or late payment penalties.
  • Payment - If you've already paid the debt and can prove it then the plaintiff most certainly does not have a case against you. This is not uncommon because third party debt collection agencies may have purchased the debt from your original creditor without checking for a payment history.
  • Release - If you previously filed a bankruptcy case that went to discharge which included this debt, then the plaintiff (or any party) no longer has the option to seek collection on the debt through the court. Once it is discharged in bankruptcy you are no longer legally obligated to pay it.
  • Statute of limitations - this refers to a time limit to pursue specific actions through the court. As we will discuss in more depth below, the statute of limitations under New Hampshire debt collection laws is between three and twenty years, depending on the type of debt.

SoloSuit can help to determine which the available affirmative defenses best apply to your case.

You also have the option to assert counterclaims if you believe that the plaintiff violated any debt collection laws in New Hampshire. There is a form available if you want to file a counterclaim, but please note that this can get very complicated very quickly. You may be best served by having legal assistance from an attorney in this area of law.

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

The final step is the most straightforward but surprisingly the most often missed. After you draft your response you need to make sure to file it with the Court to prove that you have responded within the allowed 30 day timeframe.

You should print out at least two copies of your Answer and your Appearance, and if you can, make a third set for your own records, which can be very helpful. You will need to mail the first copy to the Court (use the address from the Summons and Complaint) and the second to the plaintiff's attorney.

SoloSuit files the paperwork for you and covers all the details

What is SoloSuit?

SoloSuit makes it easy to respond to a debt collection lawsuit.

How it works: SoloSuit is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your answer. Upon completion, you can either print the completed forms and mail in the hard copies to the courts or you can pay SoloSuit to file it for you and to have an attorney review the document.

Respond with SoloSuit

"First time getting sued by a debt collector and I was searching all over YouTube and ran across SoloSuit, so I decided to buy their services with their attorney reviewed documentation which cost extra but it was well worth it! SoloSuit sent the documentation to the parties and to the court which saved me time from having to go to court and in a few weeks the case got dismissed!" – James


Start My Answer


>>Read the FastCompany article: Debt Lawsuits Are Complicated: This Website Makes Them Simpler To Navigate

>>Read the NPR story on SoloSuit: A Student Solution To Give Utah Debtors A Fighting Chance

Statute of Limitations on Debt in New Hampshire

The statute of limitations for debt collection in New Hampshire varies depending on the type of debt, ranging from three to twenty years. Credit card debt has a three year statute of limitations, whereas auto loans have four years. Both medical debt and state tax debt have six years to pursue collection through the legal system. Mortgage debt has the longest time period with a twenty year statute of limitations.

Nevada Statute of Limitations
on Debt

Debt Type

Deadline in Years

Oral

3

Written

3

Promissory

6

Open

3

Credit Card

3

Auto Loan

4

Medical

6

State Tax

6

Judgment

20

Mortgage

20


Source: Findlaw



Every state has legal aid organizations available to offer free legal services for their residents who cannot otherwise afford assistance. Some of these New Hampshire organizations are listed below:

New Hampshire Legal Assistance

Legal Aid and Referral Center

New Hampshire Legal Aid

The New Hampshire Access to Justice Commission

The NH Judicial Self-Help Center

Pro Bono Program of the New Hampshire Bar Association

New Hampshire State Court Locations

New Hampshire court location information.

Key Takeaways

In short, here's a quick review on how to answer a summons for debt collection in New Hampshire.

Follow these three steps:

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

Good Luck!

How to Answer a Summons for Debt Collection Guides for Other States

Here's a list to guides for other states.

All 50 states.