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

George Simons | December 06, 2023

Edited by Hannah Locklear

Summary: Deadlines to file an Answer in court range from 14-35 days. Use our deadline calculator to determine your deadline. 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.

You can use our deadline calculator to determine your deadline.

Deadline Calculator

Select your state.

Select the day you were served.

Your deadline

This calculator is for educational purposes only. It does not factor in weekends or holidays, so your actual deadline may be some days later.

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.

Deadline to Respond to Debt Lawsuit in all 50 States

State Deadline Source
Alabama 14 days - Small claims cases
30 days - Circuit court cases
Alabama Legal Help
Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure
Alaska 20 days Alaska Court System Self Help Center
Arizona 20 days - served Summons in AZ
30 days - served Summons elsewhere
Arizona Judicial Branch
CaseText Arizona Rules
Arkansas 30 days CaseText Arkansas Rules
California 30 days (including weekends/court holidays) California Judicial Branch
Colorado 21 days CaseText Colorado Rules
Connecticut 30 days Connecticut Judicial Branch
Delaware 20 days Delaware Judicial Branch
District of Columbia 21 days DC Courts
Florida 20 days CaseText Florida Rules
Georgia 30 days Georgia Consumer Protection Division
Hawaii 20 days CaseText Hawaii Rules
Idaho 21 days Idaho Judicial Branch
Illinois 30 days CaseText Illinois Rules
Indiana 20 days Indiana Rules of Court
Iowa 20 CaseText Iowa Rules
Kansas 21 days Kansas Legislature
Kentucky 20 days Kentucky Rules of Civil Procedure
Louisiana 15 days Louisiana State Legislature
Maine 20 days Maine Rules of Civil Procedure
Maryland 30 days CaseText Maryland Rules
Massachusetts 20 days
Michigan 21 days Michigan Rules of Civil Procedure
Minnesota 20 days Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure
Mississippi 30 days CaseText Mississippi Rules
Missouri 30 days Missouri Judicial Branch
Montana 21 days Montana Rules of Civil Procedure
Nebraska 30 days Nebraska Judicial Branch
Nevada 20 days Supreme Court of Nevada Law Library
New Hampshire 30 days New Hampshire Judicial Branch
New Jersey 35 days New Hampshire Judicial Branch
New Mexico 30 days New Mexico Judicial Branch
New York 20 days
North Carolina 30 days North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure
North Dakota 20 days - Small claims cases
21 days - Regular civil cases
North Dakota Courts District
North Dakota Courts Small Claims
Ohio 28 days CaseText Ohio Rules
Oklahoma 20 days Justia Oklahoma Rules
Oregon 30 days Oregon Courts
Pennsylvania 20 days Pennsylvania Code
Rhode Island 20 days CaseText Rhode Island Rules
South Carolina 30 days South Carolina Legal Services
South Dakota 30 days South Dakota Legislature
Tennessee 21 days Tennessee Courts
Texas 14 days - Justice Court case
20 days - District Court cases
Texas Appleseed
Utah 21 days Utah Courts
Vermont 21 days - Regular civil cases
30 days - Small claims cases
Vermont Law Help
Virginia 21 days CaseText Virginia Rules
West Virginia 20 days - Self-represented defendants
30 days - Defendant with an attorney
West Virginia Rules of Civil Procedure
Wisconsin 20 days Wisconsin State Legislature
Wyoming 20 days - served Summons in WY
30 days - served Summons elsewhere
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

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>>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!

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