George Simons | October 05, 2023
Edited by Hannah Locklear
Fact-checked by Patrick Austin, J.D.
Summary: If you have received a Summons for debt collection in Delaware, you must respond to the lawsuit before the state's deadline which is 15 days for Justice of the Peace cases and 20 days for all other cases. SoloSuit's Answer form makes it easy to respond to your case and defend yourself in court.
Getting served with a summons claiming you owe a debt in Delaware can be an anxiety-inducing experience. You may be feeling overwhelmed and intimidated by the prospect of contesting the lawsuit in court. You may even be feeling scared and uncertain about your path forward. Do not fret. SoloSuit is here to help you through this difficult time and has compiled important information to help simplify debt collection lawsuits so you know what to expect.
Below, you will find helpful information on what needs to be done to properly respond to a summons for debt collection in Delaware. The information in this guide is tailored to debt collection lawsuits in Delaware.
In other words, you have 15 days to respond to a debt Summons if your case is in the Justice of the Peace court, and you have 20 days to respond if your case is in any other court. It is extremely important to respond before the deadline. Why? Because if you fail to respond, the court will likely enter a default judgment against you. If this occurs, the debt collection company will be awarded the amount alleged to be owed, court costs, and other forms of relief requested as a part of the judgment. They may even be granted the right to garnish your wages.
You can respond by filing an Answer with the court after you have been served the Summons and Complaint and sending a copy to the plaintiff's attorney.
An Answer is an explanation, defense, or denial of the claims made against you in a debt collection case. Therefore, you must read and understand the Summons and Complaint to prepare your Answer document correctly.
You can use SoloSuit's Answer form to respond to a Delaware debt lawsuit in minutes. All you have to do is respond to some questions about your case, and SoloSuit's software takes care of the rest. Our Answer form is properly formatted, uses legitimate legal language, and includes sections for your responses and affirmative defenses.
If you prefer to create your own response, here is Delaware's forms wesbite where you can fill out form number CF07 to respond to a Complaint.
If you demand a Bill of Particulars be produced by the plaintiff, the debt collection company will need to serve a detailed Bill of Particulars to you within 15 days, counting the date of mailing as the first day. Typically, plaintiffs in debt collection cases will use a Bill of Particulars form made available by the court, specifically CF10BP. A plaintiff must serve the Bill of Particulars by:
The Bill of Particulars needs to be in writing and should expressly state the basis for the claim, along with the manner in which the amount alleged to be owed was calculated.
If a plaintiff fails to satisfy these requirements, you could file a motion with the court seeking an order compelling the plaintiff to comply. A motion to compel needs to be filed with the Court within 5 days after the time for serving the Bill of Particulars lapsed.
In Delaware, you are not required to pay a filing fee to respond to a debt collection lawsuit. You simply need to complete an Answer and mail it to the court within 15 days (for Justice of the Peace cases) or 20 days (for all other cases) of receipt of the Summons.
If you decide to file a counterclaim or third party claim, expect to pay a filing fee. In Delaware, the fee to file a counterclaim is $300. The same $300 filing fee applies to a third party claim. This is because, in Delaware, the filings of counterclaims, cross-claims, or third-party claims are charged at the same rate as filing a new case.
When you are sued by a debt collection company, it is quite common to feel uneasy and somewhat overwhelmed at the thought of going to court against a big debt collection company. Do not give into this fear and anxiety. You need to be proactive and make sure you respond to the summons. Simply ignoring the summons is not recommended since it is simply a one-way ticket to a default judgment against you. Once that happens, the debt collection company holds all of the proverbial cards and can initiate the garnishment of your wages and other adverse actions.
So, here are the steps you need to take to respond to a debt collection lawsuit in Delaware.
The first step is to create your Answer. In this document you respond to the Complaint. First, you'll need to put all of the relevant case information on the document.
Gather all of the information that's in the Complaint and Summons and add it to your Answer, including:
This information helps the court now what case the document refers to.
In the Answer, you respond to every paragraph in the Complaint. You can choose one of three options:
In Delaware, you can also choose to request a jury trial and request a Bill of Particulars. A Bill of Particulars is a document you can request the debt collector produce to prove you owe the debt. Often times when you request this, they can't actually prove anything.
You need to complete and mail the Answer form within 15 days of being served with the Summons for Justice of Peace cases and 20 days for other cases. It is extremely important to mail the form within this time period because if the court does not receive a copy of the Answer in a time, they could move forward with entering a default judgment against you. Do not let this happen. Make sure the Answer is filled out and mailed within the deadline, commencing from the date you were served with the Complaint.
Depending on the facts of your case, it may make sense to file a counterclaim against the plaintiff. A counterclaim can be filed when you have reason to believe that the Plaintiff actually owes you money instead of the other way around. For example, if you were subjected to harassment or threats by the debt collector, you may be able to pursue compensatory damages from the debt collection company. But keep in mind, a counterclaim needs to be filed at least 5 days prior to trial (excluding holidays and weekends).
If you opt to challenge the debt collection lawsuit and request a trial, it is important to research any potential affirmative defenses that may apply to your case. Examples of common affirmative defenses used in debt collection lawsuits include:
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.
It is important to have a general understanding of the statute of limitations since it governs the amount of time a debt collector has to take legal action against you concerning an unpaid debt. Once the statute of limitations expires, a debt collector is generally unable to pursue a lawsuit against you in court. Though, it does not mean a lawsuit cannot be filed against you. Rather, if a debt collector files a lawsuit after the statute of limitations expired, you need to raise this issue as an affirmative defense.
The statute of limitations starts when you fail to make your last payment. In Delaware, the statute of limitations expires after three years have passed from this date for most types of debt.
|Debt Type||Deadline In Years|
|Source: Del. Code tit. 10 § 5072 and § 8106|
Learn more about how the statute of limitations can be used in a debt collection lawsuit here.
If you need help defending yourself in a debt collection lawsuit in Delaware, there are organizations offering assistance at little-to-no-cost to Delaware residents. These organizations include:
Community Legal Aid Society, Inc.
CLASI offers civil legal assistance to Delaware residents who have low incomes, disabilities, and/or who are 60 years of age or older.
Address: 100 W. 10th Street, Suite 801, Wilmington, DE 19801
Delaware Volunteer Legal Services
DVLS consists of volunteer attorneys who provide legal assistance to low-income individuals.
Address:100 West 10th Street, Suite 203, Wilmington, DE 19801
Legal Services Corporation of Delaware, Inc.
LSCDI offers legal assistance to low-income individuals in civil matters such as bankruptcy petitions and advice, consumer problems, housing problems, and unemployment benefit problems.
Address:4601 Concord Pike, Wilmington, DE 19803
Limited Legal Assistance Program
The LLAP is coordinated through the Administrative Office of the Courts and is sponsored by the Delaware State Courts, the Delaware State Bar Association, Delaware Volunteer Legal Services, Inc., Community Legal Aid Society, Inc., Legal Services Corporation of Delaware, Inc., Widener University School of Law, and the Delaware Paralegal Association.
Courts in Delaware are based in the three major counties: New Castle, Kent, and Sussex. Within each county is a set of courts that possess jurisdiction over different legal matters. The Delaware court system is unique so it is important to understand whether the debt collection agency actually filed the lawsuit with the proper court.
There is a Justice of the Peace Court, which is considered to be the “entry level” court and empowered to oversee cases where the amount in dispute in a civil matter is less than $15,000.
There is also the Court of Common Pleas, which possesses jurisdiction over civil cases involving an amount in dispute between $15,001 and $50,000.
In addition to the Court of Common Pleas, there is the Superior Court, which is Delaware's court of general jurisdiction. The Superior Court possesses original jurisdiction over civil cases, with the exception of “equity” cases.
In summary, here is what you need to do to effectively answer a summons for debt collection in Delaware.
Deadline to file an Answer for Justice of the Peace courts: 15 days.
Deadline to file an Answer for all other courts: 20 days.
Do these steps:
Best of Luck!
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.
You can ask your questions on the SoloSuit forum and the community will help you out. Whether you need help now are are just look for support, we're here for you.
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.
Out Debt Validation Letter is the best way to respond to a collection letter. Many debt collectors will simply give up after receiving it.
"Finding yourself on the wrong side of the law unexpectedly is kinda scary. I started researching on YouTube and found SoloSuit's channel. The videos were so helpful, easy to understand and encouraging. When I reached out to SoloSuit they were on it. Very professional, impeccably prompt. Thanks for the service!" - Heather