September 22, 2019
Getting sued for a debt is just the worst. This article will make the process a little bit easier and tell you how to answer a summons for debt collection in Alabama.
Below, you’ll find helpful topics on how to answer a summons for debt collection in the Heart of Dixie. This list includes information specific to filing in Alabama, like state deadlines and forms.
District Court – 14 Days
Circuit Court – 30 Days
You know you’re being sued for a debt if you receive a document in the mail saying you’re being sued for a debt. This document is called a Summons and Complaint. Normally, you only have 14 days to do respond to the complaint. You can respond with either an Answer document or a Motion; usually, you’ll want to respond with an Answer document.
There are four steps to respond to a complaint.
Let’s take a look at each one.
(Here’s the official Alabama court site.)
Answering a Complaint will most likely seem very intimidating, but the process is really quite simple. All you need to do is read the complaint carefully and then decide how you want to respond to each numbered paragraph. You can respond in one of three ways:
Just choose one of these answers and write it into your Answer. If you choose “disagree” you can explain why you disagree.
Alabama’s form linked above, provides a simplified approach, where can simply agree to all, disagree with all, or agree that owe some debt but not all of it.
“Assert affirmative defenses” means give reasons for why you shouldn’t lose the lawsuit or why you don’t owe the debt. These defenses are written into your Answer.
Here are some of the more common defenses we see:
These are a few of the many affirmative defenses. Being unable to pay the debt is not a legal defense to the debt.
(Here’s the official section of code establishing affirmative defenses.)
Somewhat surprisingly, this is oftentimes the hardest part of the process: actually getting your Answer to the courts. Alabama courts require defendant debtors who don’t have an attorney to file the answer by mail or in person. So here’s what you need to do:
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.
There is no fee for filing an Answer. The Answer needs to arrive at the court before the 14-day deadline.