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Answer a Debt Lawsuit in Vermont Small Claims Court

Melissa Lyken | December 07, 2023

Legal Expert, Paralegal
Melissa Lyken, BS

Melissa Lyken is a senior paralegal and legal-finance content writer with over eight years of professional legal and business experience and a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Community Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Edited by Hannah Locklear

Hannah Locklear
Editor at SoloSuit
Hannah Locklear, BA

Hannah Locklear is SoloSuit’s Marketing and Impact Manager. With an educational background in Linguistics, Spanish, and International Development from Brigham Young University, Hannah has also worked as a legal support specialist for several years.

Summary: You have 30 days to respond to a debt lawsuit in Vermont small claims court. You can use Vermont's small claims court forms with SoloSuit's Answer form to present the strongest case possible.

Are you being sued for unpaid debt in Vermont? Have you already received the court documents in the mail? If so, then you are probably wondering what you should do next. The last thing you want to do is ignore the lawsuit or wait until the last minute to take action.

In Vermont, there are two types of debt collection lawsuit cases: small claims court cases and regular Civil Division cases. Small claims court involves claims of $5,000 or less, while regular Civil Division cases typically handle all other claims.

You might be wondering why you need to know if your case is in small claims court or regular civil. The answer is simple: the process of responding to a lawsuit varies depending on the type of case. More specifically, small claims court has a court-provided Answer form and a different deadline for filing the Answer.

In this article, we will focus on how to respond to a small claims case in Vermont. We will break down fees, deadlines, forms, and everything else you should know about how to win your Vermont lawsuits. We also have a separate guide where you can learn how to respond to a Vermont case in regular civil court.

Let's jump right in.

What is a small claims case in Vermont?

Like we mentioned before, Vermont small claims court handles lawsuits with claims of $5,000 or less.

Small claims court is basically a simplified, inexpensive version of regular civil court. It is not uncommon for creditors or debt collectors to sue people in the small claims court.

So, there are a few things to know about small claims cases in Vermont:

  • Vermont small claims cases have a $5,000 limit.
  • Vermont small claims cases only involve suits for money.
  • Vermont small claims cases only handle simple claims.
  • Vermont small claims cases do not involve a trial by jury.

If you're being sued in Vermont small claims court, the first step to winning your case is to respond with a written Answer. But first, let's explore how a small claims case is started.

Respond to your Vermont debt lawsuit in 15 minutes.

How does a Vermont small claims case work?

A small claims case is initiated when the plaintiff (the person suing) files a Summons and Complaint with the court. The plaintiff must also send the Summons and Complaint to the defendant (the person being sued).

The Summons and Complaint are both legal documents that initiate a lawsuit. The Summons is the official notification of the lawsuit, while the Complaint outlines the specific claims being made against the defendant.

You must respond to the Vermont Summons and Complaint in order to have a fighting chance in your case. Here's how.

File an Answer to a debt lawsuit in small claims court Vermont

You have 30 days to respond to a Vermont Summons and Complaint, and the clock starts ticking from the date the court documents are mailed.

Filing an Answer is your opportunity to fight the lawsuit and contest any incorrect information in the Complaint. If you don't file your Answer on time, the plaintiff will ask the court to enter a default judgment against you. 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 side of the case heard.

You should have received a small claims Answer form when you were notified of the lawsuit. If you didn't, have no fear. Use this Vermont small claims Answer form.

To respond to the small claims case, following these five steps:

  1. Read the Complaint and respond to the allegations.
  2. Check the exempt income box if it applies to you.
  3. Fill out the counterclaim section if you think the plaintiff actually owes you.
  4. File the Answer with the court, and send a copy to the plaintiff.
  5. Fill out a certificate of service.

Now, let's break down each step a little further.

Step 1: Read the complaint and respond to the allegations

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 your Answer.

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 if it applies to you

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: Fill out the counterclaim section if you think the plaintiff actually owes you

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 regular civil action as opposed to small claims.

Step 4: File the Answer with the court, and send a copy to the plaintiff

After you've filled out the Answer form, make sure to file it into the case with the court. You can mail it in or drop it off at the courthouse. SoloSuit has all the mailing information you might need to file your Answer in Vermont, including courthouse addresses and court clerk numbers.

You must also send a copy of the Answer to the plaintiff. Their address should be listed on the Summons and Complaint.

Again, you have 30 days to file your Answer into the case before you risk a default judgment.

Step 5: Fill out a certificate of service

You must provide proof to the court that you served the plaintiff with your Answer. You can do this by filling a certificate of service and submitting it to the court.

Use the Vermont small claims court forms

Vermont's judiciary website has a special small claims page where you can access Vermont small claims forms. Just scroll to the bottom of the page for any type of form you might need in a small claims case.

The available forms include the Answer, appeals, and motions. While these forms are helpful, they don't leave you a lot of room to state your case. There is a section on the Vermont small claims Answer form that says you can attach additional pages if you need more room to respond.

It's a good idea to fill out a SoloSuit Answer form and attach it to your small claims Answer form. This will give you even more leverage in your case. Let us explain.

Attach SoloSuit's Answer form to your small claims form

There isn't much room for a response on the Vermont small claims Answer form. There's even a line that states, “If you need more space, attach an additional sheet.”

Adding a SoloSuit Answer form to your small claims Answer will strengthen your case and give you more room to respond to all the claims against you and assert your affirmative defense. Here's a sample SoloSuit Answer form, for your reference:

SoloSuit Answer form sample

In your SoloSuit Answer, you should:

Respond to Each Claim: First, respond to every claim listed in the Complaint. 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:

  • Admit—like saying, “This is true.”
  • Deny—like saying, “Prove it.”
  • Deny due to lack of knowledge—like saying, “I don't know.”

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 the right affirmative defenses the right way with SoloSuit.

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 small claims court. Make sure to file your Answer before it's too late.

SoloSuit can help you respond to a debt lawsuit in all 50 states.

Check out this video to learn more about how to respond to a debt collection lawsuit:

What is SoloSuit?

SoloSuit makes it easy to fight debt collectors.

You can use SoloSuit to respond to a debt lawsuit, to send letters to collectors, and even to settle a debt.

SoloSuit's Answer service is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your Answer. Upon completion, we'll have an attorney review your document and we'll file it for you.

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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