What is the Deadline for a Defendant's Answer to Avoid a Default Judgment?

George Simons

January 14, 2021

Summary: Deadlines to file an Answer in court range from 14-31 days. If you've been sued for a debt, use SoloSuit to respond in just 15 minutes and win your lawsuit.

Getting served with a debt collection lawsuit is typically a stress and anxiety-inducing event for many people. Your mind may be inundated with questions and concerns. One of the first questions you may be asking yourself is, “what is the deadline to respond to the debt collector's Complaint?” This page provides valuable information concerning the deadlines in each of the 50 states to file your Answer to a debt collector's Complaint.

Generally, most states afford a defendant between 20 and 30 days to file a written response to the debt collection lawsuit (though the filing deadline is actually much shorter in some states).

SoloSuit makes it simple to respond the right way.

50 State Overview of the Relevant Deadlines to File an Answer to a Debt Collection Lawsuit

Here is an overview of the deadline to file an Answer in each of the 50 states. As you will see, there is no uniform response time, though, most states provide the defendant between 20 and 30 days to respond. This list does not document the nuances in each state; response times can vary within states based on different factors; this list is an imperfect summary.

State Days
Alabama 14 in small claims; 30 days in circuit court
Alaska 20
Arizona 20, (if you were served in Arizona)
Arkansas 30
California 30
Colorado 21
Connecticut 30
Delaware 20
District of Columbia 21
Florida 20
Georgia 30
Hawaii 20
Idaho 20
Illinois 10
Indiana 20
Iowa 20
Kansas 21
Kentucky 20
Louisiana 15
Maine 20
Maryland 30
Massachusetts 20
Michigan 21
Minnesota 20
Mississippi 30
Missouri 30
Montana 21
Nebraska 30
Nevada 20
New Hampshire 30
New Jersey 35
New Mexico 30
New York 20, if served in New York
North Carolina 30
North Dakota 20 in small claims; 21 days in civil court
Ohio 28
Oklahoma 20
Oregon 30
Pennsylvania 20
Rhode Island 20
South Carolina 30
South Dakota 20
Tennessee 21
Texas 20
Utah 21, if served in Utah
Vermont 30
Virginia 21
Washington 20
West Virginia 21
Wisconsin 20
Wyoming 20, if served in Wyoming

Why You Want to Avoid a Default Judgment

If you fail to file your Answer within the relevant filing deadline, the debt collector will likely file a motion with the court asking it to enter a “default judgment” against you. Once a default judgment is entered, the debt collector is empowered to garnish your wages, seize your property, and even access the funds in your bank accounts. As you can see, this is not what you want to have happen when being pursued by a debt collector. You should take affirmative steps to respond to the Complaint.

SoloSuit makes it easy to avoid a default judgment.

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


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>>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

If you need assistance on how to best respond to a debt collection lawsuit, consider utilizing SoloSuit. What is SoloSuit? Take a moment to review these FAQs to learn more.

(How to stop receiving calls from Covington Credit)

Important Takeaways on Responding to a Debt Collection Lawsuit

Here are some key points on what you need to do if you are served with a debt collection lawsuit:

  • Do not ignore the Complaint
  • File your Answer with the Clerk of Court before the expiration of the filing deadline.
  • Review the 50 State summary provided by SoloSuit to confirm how many days you have to file your response.

Best of 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.

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