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

Eva Bacevice

August 07, 2020

Summary: Live in New Mexico and need help responding to a debt collection lawsuit? You can use SoloSuit to guide New Mexican residents quickly and easily through the process.

Few things in life are more stressful than finding out you're being sued. These days, with money already being so tight, it can be even more stressful to find yourself on the receiving end of a debt collection lawsuit. If you know you can't afford to hire an attorney to help you out, it can be really tempting to want to ignore the lawsuit altogether. But if you do, that only guarantees that the other side will win, so you need to resist that temptation as hard as you can.

Besides, even though responding to a lawsuit on your own sounds intimidating, it's actually a lot easier than you might think. In this article we will walk you through all of the steps to help make it a little simpler. We'll even include information specific to New Mexico, like the response deadline, online court forms, and information about new and upcoming programs in the New Mexico court system.

Table of Contents

New Mexico Deadline for Answering a Debt Collection Summons

In New Mexico you have 30 days to file an Answer with the court after you're served the Summons and Complaint. The debt collection lawsuit begins as soon as the plaintiff (the party suing you) files the Summons and Complaint with the court. This starting date will be time-stamped by the Court on both documents you receive, as well as stated in the accompanying certificate of service. You will need to calculate the deadline to file your response from that filing date to make sure that you do not miss the 30 day deadline.

If you do not file a response before that deadline, the plaintiff can ask for the Court to grant something called a default judgment. This means that they win because you failed to respond within the allowed timeframe.

The default judgment has additional consequences as well. Because you failed to respond there was no dispute for any of the facts set forth by the plaintiff. This means they win a judgment for the full amount they requested, even if you believe that amount is inaccurate. It's too late to dispute once they have the default judgment. In addition, once they have a default judgment in their favor they can turn that Court order into a garnishment, which can take money out of your paycheck before you even see it. This will only make your financial circumstances harder than they were already, so you should do everything in your power to avoid handing them an easy victory.

New Mexico Answer to Summons Forms

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

If your case is in the New Mexico Magistrate Court (civil claims less than$10,000) there is an online Answer Form that you can use. You'll need to go to the New Mexico Courts Forms site, choose “Magistrate Court,” then choose “Civil,” and click on option “4-301 - Answer to civil complaint” to access a pdf copy of the form. If your New Mexico debt collection case is for more than $10,000, then you will likely be in District court. In this case you will need to format and draft your own response, which we will explain in detail later in the article.

You can also use SoloSuit to help you draft a response in the proper format quickly and easily. All you need to do is answer a few questions online. Solosuit will then translate your answers into the necessary legalese. Finally, Solosuit will also have an attorney review the completed documents before filing them on your behalf.

Answer Filing Fees for New Mexico

New Mexico Court costs are listed here for each District.

Steps to Respond to a Debt Collection Case in New Mexico

There are a few items specific to New Mexico that you should know before creating your Answer document that may impact your timing. First, in September of 2019, New Mexico courts launched a new statewide program for online dispute resolution for lawsuits concerning consumer debt. This option, which is only available for a limited period at the beginning of a lawsuit, allows for quicker resolution of these cases without a court trial.

Second, in June of 2020 the State Supreme Court of New Mexico suspended the issuance of any new writs of garnishment and writs of execution for consumer debt collection in district, magistrate and metropolitan court cases due to the ongoing public health crisis. Garnishments, as we discussed above, allow for the opportunity to take money directly out of your paycheck or bank account by the holder of a court order. For the time being there is temporary relief from these measures.

Regardless of any stay on garnishment orders, however, make certain that you are still responding to the Complaint within the 30 day timeframe. It's still vital to avoid any default judgment. The clock starts on that 30 days from the date that the Summons and Complaint were filed.

It may well sound intimidating to think about writing your own response to a legal action, but it's actually much easier than you are expecting. So long as you follow the four steps below, each of which we will explore further in detail, you will give yourself the best chance to be victorious in your debt collection lawsuit.

  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.

Step one in this process is to create or fill in your own Answer document. If your case is in Magistrate Court, you can simply fill in the information on the pdf of the online form. You can find the information you need on the Summons and Complaint that you received, and fill in the blanks on the “Answer to Civil Complaint” form for the court County, type of court, and case number following the blank after “No.” You'll also need to add in the information from the party suing you (before “plaintiff”) and your name preceding “defendant.”

If your case is in District Court, you'll need to create a document with a proper legal caption. You're not starting from zero on this - there should already be a proper caption with most (or all) of the information that you need on both the Summons and Complaint that you received. All you need to do is recreate that format and information on your own document.

To create your own caption you will need the following information:

  • The court information - the county, address, type of court, civil case number
  • Your personal information - name, address, phone number, etc.
  • The plaintiff's information - company name and/or their attorney's name, address and phone number

SoloSuit makes it easy to find the right information.

2. Answer each issue of the Complaint.

Your next step is to respond to each and every issue (also referred to as allegations) in the Complaint. It's best to go through each paragraph separately and respond in kind to each. If you're drafting you own response, you should answer each paragraph in the name numerical order of the allegations so that it is clear which response goes with which issue, and use of on the three answer choices below:

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

If your case is in Magistrate Court and you are using the online “Answer to Complaint” form you'll need to consolidate your responses into a couple of specific categories in response to the form of the document. The first paragraph asks you to list any reasons that “the Plaintiff is not entitled to the amount claimed because” so here you would fill in any disputes about whether you owe the claim or the amount etc. If you have more to say than will fit on the lines provided you can attach additional sheets of paper as needed.

Alternatively you can answer three additional queries, beginning with asking you to offer any reasons that “the personal property claimed by Plaintiff should not be turned over to Plaintiff because.” That route goes on to ask you a second question, if applicable, that the “Defendant asserts the following counterclaim or set-off against the Plaintiff.” We will discuss the answer to this question in more depth in the next step for your response. The final query on this route is to ask whether a “trial by jury is demanded,” which if chosen requires an additional fee at filing.

SoloSuit makes it simple to respond the right way.

3. Assert affirmative defenses.

This next section is where you get to fight back, by using any and all applicable affirmative defenses. An affirmative defense is any reason that you can assert to show that that the plaintiff doesn't have a case. You can find a complete list of all affirmative defenses allowed in New Mexico in New Mexico's Rules of Civil Procedures Rule 1-008 (C.) If you're using the form for Magistrate court you can include this information in the three question route, under question number two.

With SoloSuit you can make the right affirmative defenses the right way.

We will discuss some of the more common affirmative defenses briefly below, but please note that this does not include all the possible choices.

  • Payment: If you can prove that you've already paid the debt in question, that will stop any lawsuit in its tracks.
  • Accord and satisfaction: This is a legal term for any agreement that you came to with the creditor regarding the debt in question, which could include an agreement to pay less than the total amount in full satisfaction of the debt. This is detail that could easily fall through the cracks from the original creditor when the debt was purchased by a debt collection agency. Attach any proof you have of such an agreement to your Answer document.
  • The debt was already discharged in a bankruptcy. If the debt in question was already discharged in bankruptcy then no creditor can pursue collection through the courts.
  • Statute of imitations has expired. A statute of limitations is a law that sets a deadline for legal action. We will discuss the New Mexico statute of limitations on debt collection in more detail later in this article.

After you go through all of your affirmative defenses you can also explore any counterclaims against the plaintiff. Counterclaims might be appropriate in the event that you can show that the plaintiff violated New Mexico debt collection laws. New Mexico follows the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and supplements that protection with the New Mexico Fair Debt Collection Practices Act 61-18A-1 to further protect consumers. Do keep in mind, however, that counterclaims can be very complex and would best be pursued with the assistance of knowledgeable legal counsel.

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

Finally, make certain that after you've put in all of your hard work to draft your Answer that you file it properly with the Court before the 30 day deadline.

To complete this final step of filing your answer you will need to do the following:

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

It can be helpful to print an additional copy for your own records and for use at any hearing or alternative dispute proceeding.

SoloSuit files for you.

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 Mexico

The New Mexico Statute of Limitations varies depending on the type of type. For any open or oral contract, including any credit card bills the statue of limitation on New Mexico debt collection is four years. It extends to 6 years for written or promissory contracts, like medical debt. Once this time period has passed for the appropriate type of debt, recovery through the court system is no longer an option for collection purposes.

New Mexico Statute of Limitations
on Debt

Debt Type

Deadline in Years

Oral

4

Written

6

Mortgage

6

Open

4

Credit Card

4

Judgment

14


Source: Findlaw



Every state has at least one government-funded organization that provides free legal services to people who cannot otherwise afford assistance. For New Mexico you can reach out to the following:

New Mexico Legal Aid

New Mexico Courts Pro Bono

Native American Disability Law Services

New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty

New Mexico Court Locations

New Mexico Court Locations

Key Takeaways

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

  • Remember that the Deadline for New Mexico is 30 days
  • Use SoloSuit.com, follow New Mexico's online form for Magistrate Court, or draft your own Answer.

Complete the following four steps:

  1. Create an Answer document
  2. Answer each issue in the complaint, paragraph by paragraph.
  3. Assert your any and all of your affirmative defenses.
  4. File and serve the Answer on the Court and the Plaintiff's attorney.

Good Luck!

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

Here's a list of guides for other states.

All 50 states.