What is the Deadline for a Defendant's Answer to Avoid a Default Judgment?

George Simons

May 09, 2022

Summary: Deadlines to file an Answer in court range from 14-35 days. If you've been sued for a debt, use SoloSuit to respond in just 15 minutes and win your case.

Getting served with a debt collection lawsuit is typically a stress and anxiety-inducing event for many people. Your mind may be inundated with questions and concerns. One of the first questions you may be asking yourself is, “what is the deadline to respond to the debt collector's Complaint?” This page provides valuable information concerning the deadlines in each of the 50 states to file your Answer to a debt collector's Complaint.

SoloSuit can help file an Answer in all 50 states.

The deadline to respond to the Summons in a debt collection lawsuit varies by state

Generally, most courts give the defendant 20-30 days to respond to Summons for debt collection, but the deadline varies. Below is an overview of the deadline to file an Answer in each of the 50 states.

As you will see, there is no uniform response time. This list does not document the nuances in each state such as certain case types or other factors. Keep in mind that laws are constantly changing, so make sure to double check your Summons document for your deadline.

Deadlines to Respond to Debt Lawsuit in all 50 State

State

Days

Source

Alabama

14 - Small claims cases

30 - Circuit court cases

Alabama Legal Help; Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure

Alaska

20

Alaska Court System Self Help Center

Arizona

20 - Service of Summons happened in Arizona

30 - Service of Summons happened outside of Arizona

Arizona Judicial Branch; CaseText Arizona Rules

Arkansas

30

CaseText Arkansas Rules

California

30 (including weekends and court holidays)

California Judicial Branch

Colorado

21

CaseText Colorado Rules

Connecticut

30

Connecticut Judicial Branch

Delaware

20

Delaware Judicial Branch

District of Columbia

21

DC Courts

Florida

20

CaseText Florida Rules

Georgia

30

Georgia Consumer Protection Division

Hawaii

20

CaseText Hawaii Rules

Idaho

20

Idaho Judicial Branch

Illinois

10

CaseText Illinois Rules

Indiana

20

Indiana Rules of Court

Iowa

20

CaseText Iowa Rules

Kansas

21

Kansas Legislature

Kentucky

20

Kentucky Rules of Civil Procedure

Louisiana

15

Louisiana State Legislature

Maine

20

Maine Rules of Civil Procedure

Maryland

30

CaseText Maryland Rules

Massachusetts

20

Mass.gov

Michigan

21

Michigan Rules of Civil Procedure

Minnesota

20

Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure

Mississippi

30

CaseText Mississippi Rules

Missouri

30

Missouri Judicial Branch

Montana

21

Montana Rules of Civil Procedure

Nebraska

30

Nebraska Judicial Branch

Nevada

20

Supreme Court of Nevada Law Library

New Hampshire

30

New Hampshire Judicial Branch

New Jersey

35

New Hampshire Judicial Branch

New Mexico

30

New Mexico Judicial Branch

New York

20

NYCourts.gov

North Carolina

30

North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure

North Dakota

20 - Small claims cases

21 Regular civil cases

North Dakota Courts District; North Dakota Courts Small Claims

Ohio

28

CaseText Ohio Rules

Oklahoma

20

Justia Oklahoma Rules

Oregon

30

Oregon Courts

Pennsylvania

20

Pennsylvania Code

Rhode Island

20

CaseText Rhode Island Rules

South Carolina

30

South Carolina Legal Services

South Dakota

30

South Dakota Legislature

Tennessee

21

Tennessee Courts

Texas

14 - Justice Court cases

20 - District Court cases

Texas Appleseed

Utah

21

Utah Courts

Vermont

21 - Regular civil cases

30 - Small claims cases

Vermont Law Help

Virginia

21

CaseText Virginia Rules

West Virginia

20 - Self-represented defendants

30 - Defendant is represented by an attorney notifies the court

West Virginia Rules of Civil Procedure

Wisconsin

20

Wisconsin State Legislature

Wyoming

20 - Service of Summons happened in Wyoming

30 - Services of Summons happened outside of Wyoming

Wyoming Rules of Civil Procedure




Here's a map depicting the table above, showing the time frame you have to respond to a debt collection lawsuit before losing by default. The darker the color, the quicker you need to respond.

Why You Want to Avoid a Default Judgment

If you fail to file your Answer within the relevant filing deadline, the debt collector will likely file a motion with the court asking it to enter a “default judgment” against you. Once a default judgment is entered, the debt collector is empowered to garnish your wages, seize your property, and even access the funds in your bank accounts. As you can see, this is not what you want to have happen when being pursued by a debt collector. You should take affirmative steps to respond to the Complaint.

SoloSuit makes it easy to avoid a default judgment.

What is SoloSuit?

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.

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


Start My Answer


We have answers.
Join our community of over 40,000 people.

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.


Ask a Question


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

>>Read the NPR story on SoloSuit: A Student Solution To Give Utah Debtors A Fighting Chance

Important Takeaways on Responding to a Debt Collection Lawsuit

Here are some key points on what you need to do if you are served with a debt collection lawsuit:

  • Do not ignore the Complaint
  • File your Answer with the Clerk of Court before the expiration of the filing deadline.
  • Review the 50 State summary provided by SoloSuit to confirm how many days you have to file your response.

Best of Luck!

How to answer a summons for debt collection in your state

Here's a list of guides for other states.

All 50 states.

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah; File a Motion to Satisfy Judgment
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

    Guides on how to beat every debt collector

    Being sued by a different debt collector? Were making guides on how to beat each one.

    Win against credit card companies

    Is your credit card company suing you? Learn how you can beat each one.

    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

    Get answers to these FAQs

    Need more info on statutes of limitations? Read our 50-state guide.

    Why do debt collectors block their phone numbers?

    How long do debt collectors take to respond to debt validation letters?

    What are the biggest debt collector companies in the US?

    Is Zombie Debt Still a Problem in 2019?

    SoloSuit FAQ

    If a car is repossessed, do I still owe the debt?

    Is Portfolio Recovery Associates Legit?

    Is There a Judgment Against Me Without my Knowledge?

    Should I File Bankruptcy Before or After a Judgment?

    What is a default judgment?— What do I do?

    Summoned to Court for Medical Bills — What Do I Do?

    What Happens If Someone Sues You and You Have No Money?

    What Happens If You Never Answer Debt Collectors?

    What Happens When a Debt Is Sold to a Collection Agency

    What is a Stipulated Judgment?

    What is the Deadline for a Defendants Answer to Avoid a Default Judgment?

    Can a Judgement Creditor Take my Car?

    Can I Settle a Debt After Being Served?

    Can I Stop Wage Garnishment?

    Can You Appeal a Default Judgement?

    Do I Need a Debt Collection Defense Attorney?

    Do I Need a Payday Loans Lawyer?

    Do student loans go away after 7 years? — Student Loan Debt Guide

    Am I Responsible for My Spouses Medical Debt?

    Should I Marry Someone With Debt?

    Can a Debt Collector Leave a Voicemail?

    How Does Debt Assignment Work?

    What Happens If a Defendant Does Not Pay a Judgment?

    How Does Debt Assignment Work?

    Can You Serve Someone with a Collections Lawsuit at Their Work?

    What Is a Warrant in Debt?

    How Many Times Can a Judgment be Renewed in Oklahoma?

    Can an Eviction Be Reversed?

    Does Debt Consolidation Have Risks?

    What Happens If You Avoid Getting Served Court Papers?

    Does Student Debt Die With You?

    Can Debt Collectors Call You at Work in Texas?

    How Much Do You Have to Be in Debt to File for Chapter 7?

    What Is the Statute of Limitations on Debt in Washington?

    How Long Does a Judgment Last?

    Can Private Disability Payments Be Garnished?

    Can Debt Collectors Call From Local Numbers?

    Does the Fair Credit Reporting Act Work in Florida?

    The Truth: Should You Never Pay a Debt Collection Agency?

    Should You Communicate with a Debt Collector in Writing or by Telephone?

    Do I Need a Debt Negotiator?

    What Happens After a Motion for Default Is Filed?

    Can a Process Server Leave a Summons Taped to My Door?

    Learn More With These Additional Resources:

    Need help managing your finances? Check out these resources.

    How to Make a Debt Validation Letter - The Ultimate Guide

    How to Make a Motion to Compel Arbitration Without an Attorney

    How to Stop Wage Garnishment — Everything You Need to Know

    How to File an FDCPA Complaint Against Your Debt Collector (Ultimate Guide)

    Defending Yourself in Court Against a Debt Collector

    Tips on you can to file an FDCPA lawsuit against a debt collection agency

    Advice on how to answer a summons for debt collection.

    Effective strategies for how to get back on track after a debt lawsuit

    New Hampshire Statute of Limitations on Debt

    Sample Cease and Desist Letter Against Debt Collectors

    The Ultimate Guide to Responding to a Debt Collection Lawsuit in Utah

    West Virginia Statute of Limitations on Debt

    What debt collectors cannot do — FDCPA explained

    Defending Yourself in Court Against Debt Collector

    How to Liquidate Debt

    Arkansas Statute of Limitations on Debt

    Youre Drowning in Debt — Heres How to Swim

    Help! Im Being Sued by My Debt Collector

    How to Make a Motion to Vacate Judgment

    How to Answer Summons for Debt Collection in Vermont

    North Dakota Statute of Limitations on Debt

    ClearPoint Debt Management Review

    Indiana Statute of Limitations on Debt

    Oregon Eviction Laws - What They Say

    CuraDebt Debt Settlement Review

    How to Write a Re-Aging Debt Letter

    How to Appear in Court by Phone

    How to Use the Doctrine of Unclean Hands

    Debt Consolidation in Eugene, Oregon

    Summoned to Court for Medical Bills? What to Do Next

    How to Make a Debt Settlement Agreement

    Received a 3-Day Eviction Notice? Heres What to Do

    How to Answer a Lawsuit for Debt Collection

    Tips for Leaving the Country With Unpaid Credit Card Debt

    Kansas Statute of Limitations on Debt Collection

    How to File in Small Claims Court in Iowa

    How to File a Civil Answer in Kings County Supreme Court

    Roseland Associates Debt Consolidation Review

    How to Stop a Garnishment

    Debt Eraser Review

    Do Debt Collectors Ever Give Up?

    Can They Garnish Your Wages for Credit Card Debt?

    How Often Do Credit Card Companies Sue for Non-Payment?

    How Long Does a Judgement Last?

    ​​How Long Before a Creditor Can Garnish Wages?

    How to Beat a Bill Collector in Court