George Simons | March 21, 2023
Summary: Have you been sued for debt in California? SoloSuit can help you win.
Here's everything you need to know about responding, deadlines, and filing fees in California.
“I love getting sued for a debt,” — said no one ever.
Being sued for debt can be stressful and overwhelming. Ignoring the Summons may cause more financial challenges than what you are already handling. The best approach is to respond to the Summons, no matter what your financial situation is. This article will simplify the process by telling you exactly how to respond to a debt collection lawsuit in California. This includes information specific to filing in California, like state deadlines and forms.
Let's dive right in.
In California, you have 30 days to respond to a debt collection lawsuit (including weekends and court holidays).
If you did not receive the lawsuit documents directly, the court gives you 40 days to respond. Such a situation occurs if the Summons and Complaint were served to someone else in your household or at work, if it was sent to an old address, or it was mailed to you. Before counting these ten extra days, ensure the plaintiff's documents say you were substitute served or call the creditor's lawyer to confirm.
Be aware of these other exceptions on deadlines in California.
It can be confusing and challenging for an inexperienced person to know which forms to send to respond to a debt collection Summons. SoloSuit solves this challenge by giving you several options that will help you fill the correct form.
Use SoloSuit's free Answer form to respond to a debt collection lawsuit in California.
It's quick and easy to fill, takes less than 15 minutes, and it has the best track record for debt collection lawsuits (we get cases dismissed every day). And did we mention it's free?
Here are other forms provided by the state.
If you decide to use the state forms, you can use these official instructions to fill out the forms. SoloSuit's Answer is free and easy to fill out, and no instructions are needed.
You know you're being sued for debt when you receive court documents that say you need to appear in court on a certain date. These documents are called the Summons and Complaint. The Summons notifies you of the lawsuit, while the Complaint lists the specific allegations (or claims) that the plaintiff is making against you.
Remember, you usually have only 30 days to respond to the Complaint. The ideal document for responding is the Answer. Here are three steps to responding to a Summons and Complaint:
Now, let's break down each step in detail. If you don't like reading, SoloSuit's CEO, George Simons, discusses each step in this video:
If you haven't been sued yet, use SoloSuit's Debt Validation Letter to fight debt collectors.
Answering the Complaint can be scary, but the process is simple if you follow these guidelines. First, read the Complaint and decide how you want to respond to each numbered paragraph. You can respond in one of three ways:
SoloSuit can help you respond in less than 15 minutes—for free!
Choose one of the options above to respond to each claim that is listed in the Complaint document. Essentially, your Answer should be a list of responses. Most attorneys recommend that you deny as many of the allegations as possible. This forces the plaintiff (or debt collector) to do more work to prove their claims. You may deny a claim if the debt is not yours, you cleared the debt, or the debt has expired.
California-specific forms give you the option to admit (agree), deny (disagree), or deny because of a lack of sufficient information (I don't know). The responding process remains the same.
“Assert affirmative defenses” means giving legal reasons why you shouldn't lose the lawsuit or why you don't owe the debt. You should include a section in your Answer document for these relevant defenses.
Here are some of the most common affirmative defenses in debt collection cases:
SoloSuit makes it easy to make the right defense, the right way.
These are examples of affirmative defenses acceptable in court. Being unable to pay the debt is not a legal defense and may harm your case.
Filing an Answer can be the most difficult part of responding to a Summons for debt collection. California 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:
SoloSuit can file your Answer for you and serve the opposing party.
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.
California courts charge a mandatory filing fee to file your papers with the courts. Unfortunately, California also charges the highest filing fees in the nation; they range from $225–$435. SoloSuit calculates the fee for you and makes sure it gets to the court. The following is a breakdown of the filing fee across the 58 Counties:
California Answer Filing Fees
Amount in question:
Amount in question:
Amount in question:
All other counties
Watch this video to learn more about filing fees in California:
After filing your response, serve a copy to the plaintiff within thirty days. You can send it to the creditor or their lawyer. Ensure the person who delivers the response fills out a proof of service by mail. Send a copy of this form to the court after confirming delivery. There are several courts throughout California that do not accept Answers without a proof of service. SoloSuit has done the preliminary research to know which courts require a proof of service, and this form will be included with your Answer if you file through SoloSuit.
In some cases, a person may not have the money to pay the filing fee because they earn a low income. The courts allow you to apply for a waiver. You can qualify for a waiver if:
If you fall in the above category, make an official request by filling in Form FW-001. The steps to follow as you fill the form are:
If the courts grant your request to waive filing fees, your papers will be accepted, and the court process will continue. Afterward, you can decide if you prefer to negotiate with the creditor out of court or proceed to court. If you take the case to court and win the lawsuit, you may be asked to pay the waived court fees after receiving compensation.
SoloSuit can help you with the next step after answering a Summons and Complaint. You can send our Motion to Compel Arbitration to the creditor, which compels them to follow through with the arbitration clause in the contract. You can also send our Debt Lawsuit Settlement Letter, which requests the creditor to settle the debt out of court. Our customizable documents help you solve your debt issues without a lawyer.
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
You can ask your questions on the SoloSuit forum and the community will help you out. Whether you need help now or are just looking for support, we're here for you.
>>Read the FastCompany article: Debt Lawsuits Are Complicated: This Website Makes Them Simpler To Navigate
Here's a list of guides for other states.
Being sued by a different debt collector? Were making guides on how to beat each one.
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Going to Court for Credit Card Debt — Key Tips
How to Negotiate Credit Card Debts
How to Settle a Credit Card Debt Lawsuit — Ultimate Guide
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