Melissa Lyken | July 21, 2022
Summary: Are you being sued for a debt in Vermont? Should you ignore it and hope it goes away? Find out what do when you receive a summons. Take action and have your case dismissed.
Are you being sued for unpaid debt in Vermont? Have you already received a summons and complaint or petition? If so, then you are probably wondering what you should do next. The last thing you want to do is ignore the summons or wait until the last minute to take action.
There are two kinds of lawsuits filed against a debtor for an unpaid debt depending on the amount of money owed. First is a small claims lawsuit. These cases generally involve claims for debts amounting to $5,000.00 or less. The second is an ordinary civil action for debt collection.
You might be asking, why do I have to know if it is a small claim or an ordinary civil action. Small claims cases have a court-provided Answer form and a different deadline for filing an answer. Let's take a closer look.
To avoid a default judgment, you need to file an answer with the court before the deadline, usually 30 days from the date you are served. Your answer is your response to the complaint and summons. Filing an Answer is your opportunity to fight the lawsuit and contest any inaccurate information in the complaint. If you don't file your answer on time, the plaintiff may likely ask the court to enter a default judgment. The judge issues this order, and as a consequence, you will be forced to pay the unpaid debt, usually via wage garnishment, without the option of having your voice heard.
For small claims cases, a defendant must file their answer to the court within 30 days from the date they are served. When you file your Answer, you are also required to give the plaintiff a copy of your answer. The answer form for small claims in Vermont is available here.
If you have a copy of the answer form, all you have to do is:
Step 1. Read the complaint. If you agree to any of the allegations the plaintiff made in the complaint, check the “agree” box on the answer form. On the other hand, if you disagree, check the “disagree” box and clearly state the reason why you disagree.
Note: It is important to note that it is the plaintiff's burden to prove anything that they are alleging unless the defendant admits to the allegation in a lawsuit.
All of the defenses that you have against the plaintiff must be clearly stated in the answer form.
If you agree to the allegations, you agree that the plaintiff is correct. If this is the case, you must also specify whether you will pay the debt in full or if you wish the court to issue an installment judgment stating the amount to be paid on a specific date.
Step 2. Check the exempt income box on the form if you have income that may be exempt from debt collection. You will want to complete this form if you receive state benefits, social security, child support, or the head of household and sole provider. The list of exempt income and other forms is accessible on the website. This is a notice to the plaintiff that some or all your income may not be garnished. The plaintiff will not collect exempt wages from you even if the judgment rendered is in their favor.
Upon completing this section, you are also required to submit a Disclosure of Income form with your Answer. This form can also be found on the website listed above.
Step 3. If you have a counterclaim against the plaintiff, you must check the “counterclaim” box and describe your claim against the plaintiff. Your counterclaim must not exceed $5,000.00. If it exceeds $5,000.00, then you'll need to file your counterclaim as a civil action as opposed to small claims.
Filing an answer on a civil action for a debt collection case is almost the same as small claims cases. But in this case, there is no court-provided form. That's where we come in. You can quickly generate your answer on our website in less than fifteen minutes. If you need additional assistance, you can even have a debt collection attorney review your answer before filing it for you.
Respond to Each Paragraph: First, respond to every numbered paragraph of the complaint or petition. Read each of the statements and understand that they are all allegations made by the plaintiff. Your responses to these allegations should be short and sweet. You can answer as follows, Defendant admits the allegation, Defendant denies the allegation, Defendant denies the allegation for lack of knowledge.
Note: If you do not admit the allegation, the plaintiff will have to prove their allegation is true.
List Your Defenses: Next, you'll need to indicate all the defenses you have against the plaintiff. This may be a reiteration of your reasons why you deny a specific allegation. Furthermore, your affirmative defenses, if any, must also be indicated here. Defenses include reasons why you should not be held accountable for the debt, such as the expiration of the statute of limitations or the plaintiff is suing you for a debt you did not incur.
Make Your Counterclaim: The third is your counterclaim against the plaintiff. If the plaintiff owes you, you must state in your answer the nature and details of the plaintiff's debt.
These components should be the contents of your answer. Do not let the fact that you have to draft the response on your own discourage you from filing your answer because this can be done in minutes. What is important is the content of your answer.
Note: It is also important to note that if you change your address or contact number, always notify the court and plaintiff in writing. If you do not inform the court, you may not get a notice of the updates and progress of your case. You must know what's going on with your case if you're going to win.
If you are being sued, it is always best to have a lawyer represent you. But we are also aware that this option is not always cost-friendly. We hope that these resources help you understand how to file your answer in Vermont. Make sure to file your answer before it's too late.
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.
"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
Here's a list of guides for other states.
Being sued by a different debt collector? We're making guides on how to beat each one.
Is your credit card company suing you? Learn how you can beat each one.
Need more info on statutes of limitations? Read our 50-state guide.
Need help managing your finances? Check out these resources.