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How to Answer a Summons for Debt Collection in New Hampshire (2023 Guide)

George Simons | December 06, 2023

George Simons
Co-Founder of SoloSuit
George Simons, JD/MBA

George Simons is the co-founder and CEO of SoloSuit. He has helped Americans protect over $1 billion from predatory debt lawsuits. George graduated from BYU Law school in 2020 with a JD-MBA. In his spare time, George likes to cook, because he likes to eat.

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: If you've been sued for debt in New Hampshire, you have 30 days to respond to the lawsuit before you could potentially lose by default judgment. In order to respond, you must file an Answer document where you address each claim against you and assert your affirmative defense. SoloSuit can help you draft and file an Answer in a matter of minutes.

It can be pretty stressful to find out you're being sued by a debt collection agency in New Hampshire.

Chances are if you are behind on repaying a debt that you're already working as hard as you can to make ends meet and cover your expenses so there's no extra money to hire legal assistance. You might feel intimidated about responding on your own and tempted to just ignore the whole thing, but if you do you'll end up in an even worse financial circumstance.

Both SoloSuit and the information in this article can make the process of responding to a lawsuit a little less scary by going over each step for responding to a debt collection lawsuit in New Hampshire. Below we will include New Hampshire specific deadlines and forms to make drafting and filing your response more easily.

Table of Contents

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Respond to your debt lawsuit before the New Hampshire deadline

In New Hampshire, the deadline for responding to a debt collection lawsuit is 30 days.

More specifically, New Hampshire Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 4(e) states:

"Appearances and Answers are due within 30 days of the date the defendant is served with the Summons and Complaint."

So, if you do not respond to your debt lawsuit within 30 days in New Hampshire, then you will lose the case by inaction. The Court will issue something called a default judgment, which means that the plaintiff (the debt collection agency who filed the lawsuit) wins the case and you have no more opportunity to refute any of the allegations in the Complaint (such as whether you owe the debt or the amount.)

The next step in New Hampshire is to require a payment plan hearing (by filing a Motion for Periodic Payments) in court to determine the repayment schedule. If you did not respond within the 30 day timeframe you won't be able to contest the amount owed or anything else at that hearing.

By filing your response before the deadline runs out, you are preserving all of your rights in this matter, and have the best chance to make any arguments if this isn't your debt or the amount is unreasonable.

New Hampshire Answer to Summons Forms

You can use the SoloSuit Answer form to generate your response, or you can do it on your own using the forms below.

The New Hampshire court system provides online forms so that you can fill in the required information in your response, already in the proper format. The response forms are different depending on which court you are being sued in. Any debt collection lawsuit will be in either the Circuit Court District Division (civil claims up to $25,000) or Small Claims Court (value up to $5,000.) Use the Summons and Complaint to determine which court you are in, then use the corresponding form below:

New Hampshire Circuit Court Answer Form
Response to Small Claims

If you decide to go with SoloSuit, we will take care of the work for you by creating your Answer and filing it on your behalf. All you will need to do is answer a few questions online. In addition, an attorney will review the completed Answer to verify that everything is in proper order.

Answer Filing Fees for New Hampshire

Good news: there is no fee to file an Answer in New Hampshire. However, there may be filing fees for other types of documents, such as counterclaims.

You can find filing fee information here for the Circuit Court- Division District

Steps to Respond to a Debt Collection Case in New Hampshire

The debt collection lawsuit against you begins when you are served the Summons and Complaint. In New Hampshire you have 30 days to respond by filing an Answer, which contains all of the relevant information from the Summons and Complaint, including the following:

  • Your personal information including name and address
  • Information about the plaintiff, including the name of the company and attorney filing on their behalf.
  • Court information included in the caption, such as the name and address of the court, the proper district, and the assigned case number

SoloSuit can help you collect the information and format it for you

If you fail to respond within the 30 day period, you will lose the case if the court will file a default judgment against you and grant the plaintiff a Motion for periodic payments. To avoid this outcome and respond to a New Hampshire debt lawsuit, follow the three steps below:

  1. Answer each issue of the Complaint
  2. Assert affirmative defenses
  3. File the Answer document with the court and serve the plaintiff with a copy

Below, we'll break down each of these steps in detail. You can also watch this video to learn more:

1. Answer each issue of the Complaint

When you get sued for debt in New Hampshire, you'll receive court documents known as the Summons and Complaint. The Summons notifies you of the lawsuit. The Complaint lists the specific claims against you.

In your Answer document, you should address each claim listed in the Complaint in corresponding order with one of the following three responses:

  1. Admit
  2. Deny
  3. Unable to Admit or Deny for lack of information

You can admit facts that are true, such as your name or account number. You should deny any allegations that are untrue, and if you don't have information to properly answer an allegation (such as plaintiff's debt collection agency is incorporated in X state) use the third option. There is also space for you to add an explanation or affirmative defense where appropriate. We will discuss affirmative defenses in detail later in this article.

Note that most attorney recommend denying as many claims as possible. This will force the creditor or debt collector suing you to prove their claims.

Respond to each claim in minutes with the help of SoloSuit.

The New Hampshire court system offers online forms to create your Answer document when you have been sued. At the top you should fill in the Court name, case name and case number. The Court will either be the Circuit Court District Division (for lawsuits up to $25,000) or Small Claims Court (for lawsuits up to $5,000.)

If you are being sued in District court you can use this fillable pdf form to create your Answer document. After you fill in the court information there is a checkbox for you to request a jury trial or bench trial. Most debt collection cases are simply before a judge (or bench trial.) Fill out your personal information, and then answer each numbered paragraph of allegations in the Complaint. The form allows for only answers to the first three numbered paragraphs so you will likely need to print out or copy additional pages to answer the entire Complaint.

If you are being sued in Small Claims Court (which should be clear again from your Summons and Complaint and the amount of debt) you can use this fillable pdf form for your Answer instead. Here again you fill out the court information at the top from the Summons and Complaint, followed by your personal information under “Defendant name” etc. Next you should check a box in Section A to indicate which option you intend to pursue:

  1. Request for Court Hearing
  2. Claim Not Disputed/Payment of Claim (after which a payment hearing will be scheduled to determine a payment schedule)
  3. Request for Jury Trial in Superior Court (only available for claims over $1,500.)
  4. Bankruptcy Filed

You should then move on to Section B if you are pursuing any Counterclaims (more on this in the next section) or Section C if you are filing this on behalf of another person or entity.

SoloSuit makes it much easier to properly respond to each paragraph.

2. Assert affirmative defenses.

The next step in your Answer is typically to assert your affirmative defenses, if any.

Affirmative defenses are any reasons why this case against you is not valid. These affirmative defenses are all set forth in the New Hampshire Court Rules of Civil Procedure, and we will discuss a few of the most common below.

Common affirmative defenses:

  • Accord and Satisfaction - this refers to a situation where you have paid some of the debt in full satisfaction of the total. Most likely this would be through an agreement you made with the original creditor that might avoid additional costs, like state of New Hampshire debt collection fees or late payment penalties.

  • Payment - If you've already paid the debt and can prove it then the plaintiff most certainly does not have a case against you. This is not uncommon because third party debt collection agencies may have purchased the debt from your original creditor without checking for a payment history.

  • Release - If you previously filed a bankruptcy case that went to discharge which included this debt, then the plaintiff (or any party) no longer has the option to seek collection on the debt through the court. Once it is discharged in bankruptcy you are no longer legally obligated to pay it.

  • Statute of limitations - this refers to a time limit to pursue specific actions through the court. As we will discuss in more depth below, the statute of limitations under New Hampshire debt collection laws is between three and twenty years, depending on the type of debt.

Make the right defense the right way with SoloSuit.

Please note that if you are using the New Hampshire Answer form, you will be listing any affirmative defenses in the same numbered paragraph response as your response to the Complaint.

You also have the option to assert counterclaims if you believe that the plaintiff violated any debt collection laws in New Hampshire. There is a form available if you want to file a counterclaim, but please note that this can get very complicated very quickly. You may be best served by having legal assistance from an attorney in this area of law.

3. File the answer with the court and serve the plaintiff.

The final step is the most straightforward but surprisingly the most often missed. After you draft your response you need to make sure to file it with the Court to prove that you have responded within the allowed 30 day timeframe.

In New Hampshire, you can drop your Answer off at the court. Otherwise, you must file your documents electronically. SoloSuit has e-filed Answers into hundreds of New Hampshire cases and can help you navigate the process.

After filing with the court, be sure to send a copy of your Answer to the plaintiff's attorney. The attorney's contact information should be listed on the Summons and Complaint documents. You can mail this to the attorney, otherwise, the e-filing system can help you serve the plaintiff's attorney electronically at the same time of filing.

SoloSuit files for you.

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.

>>Read the FastCompany article: Debt Lawsuits Are Complicated: This Website Makes Them Simpler To Navigate

>>Read the NPR story on SoloSuit. (We can help you in all 50 states.)

The statute of limitations on debt in New Hampshire can protect you

The statute of limitations for debt collection in New Hampshire is typically three years. This means that the statute of limitations on credit card debt, student loan, auto loan, mortgage, and personal loan debt is three years in New Hampshire.

In other words, creditors and debt collectors only have three years to sue you, starting from the date of your last action on an account. If a creditor or collector tries to sue you for a debt that is past the statute of limitations, you can use this information as an affirmative defense in your Answer document. This will most likely lead to a dismissal of your case.

The table below further outlines the statute of limitations on different types of debt in New Hampshire:

Statute of Limitations on Debt in New Hampshire

Debt Type Deadline
Credit Card 3 years
Medical 3 years
Student Loan 3 years
Auto Loan 3 years
Mortgage 3 years
Personal Loan 3 years
Judgment 20 years

Every state has legal aid organizations available to offer free legal services for their residents who cannot otherwise afford assistance. Some of these New Hampshire organizations are listed below:

New Hampshire State Court Locations

The New Hampshire Judicial Branch website has a court directory to help consumers, like you, find important information pertaining to their case. The New Hampshire court directory can help you find your court location, the clerk's phone number, e-filing information, and more.

Key Takeaways

In short, here's a quick review on how to answer a summons for debt collection in New Hampshire.

Remember your response deadline is 30 days. You can use the SoloSuit Answer form to draft and file your response in minutes online. Otherwise, you can respond on your own with the New Hampshire Circuit Court Answer Form or Response to Small Claims Form

To respond to a debt lawsuit in New Hampshire, follow these three steps:

  1. Answer each issue in the complaint.
  2. Assert your affirmative defenses
  3. File and serve the Answer

Good Luck!

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