Start My Answer

How to File a Civil Answer With the Duval Clerk of Courts - Florida

Melissa Lyken | December 01, 2022

You don't have to stress out over a debt collection lawsuit.

Summary: You can respond with your own answer to debt collection lawsuits in Florida. Learn how to file a Civil Answer with the Duval Clerk of Courts.

If you are a Florida resident and have been served a complaint and summons to a civil lawsuit, you are probably wondering what your next steps are. In Florida, a defendant must file an answer within 20 days of being served with a summons and complaint. Filing a response to the complaint and sending it on time prevents the court from entering a default judgment against you.

A default judgment allows the creditor to garnish your wages or apply lien to your property. The answer should state your defenses to the claims asserted in the complaint. Drafting your response is as simple as saying you admit, deny or lack knowledge as your response to any of the allegations set in the complaint.

You should also include any affirmative defenses you're planning to use against the plaintiff. If you are being sued for a debt owed, continue reading for information on filing your civil answer with the Duval Clerk of Courts.

Avoid a default judgment by responding with SoloSuit.

How to Draft Your Answer to a Summons and Complaint

Once a plaintiff starts a lawsuit, you are then served with a summons and complaint. The summons notifies you that you've been sued and requires you to respond to the lawsuit. A complaint outlines the reason and basis for the suit.

The first step is to read the petition or complaint to determine why you've been sued. Next, you need to provide a response to each allegation in the complaint. The allegations are arranged in numbered paragraphs, and you should number the answers the same way. All the answers must be in writing and filed with the Clerk of Court at Duval County.

All you need to do is write whether you agree or disagree with the statements. If you don't agree with some statements, you don't have to provide the reason. Here are examples of common responses:

  • Defendant admits the allegation.
  • Defendant denies the allegation.
  • Defendant denies the allegation for lack of knowledge.

Florida law states that any denial must meet the substance of the allegation. This means that if the defendant doesn't deny all the allegations, they must either deny all except those specifically admitted or deny designated allegations. The court deems allegations not denied as admitted.

Make the right defense the right way with SoloSuit.

As highlighted earlier, state law allows you to raise affirmative defenses in your answer. This is not a denial of facts but an acknowledgment of new issues that defeat the plaintiff's claim.

Florida's state law also requires the defendant to be a little more specific if using affirmative defenses associated with fraud or a mistake. If asserting that the plaintiff lacks the capacity to sue you, you must include supporting documents or other particulars within your knowledge.

Be sure to assert all applicable defenses when drafting the answer regardless of whether they're factual because, according to Florida's state law Rule 1.140 (h), the court assumes a party has waived all defenses not presented in the answer.

If asked to provide facts for your defenses, you can argue that some defenses were raised to avoid waiver, and discovery is in progress. This strategy, however, could cause the court to dismiss or strike the defense because Florida statutes authorize sanctions against parties filing affirmative defenses without legal or factual proof. However, you can seek permission to amend the defense to avoid the sanction.

What to Include in the Answer Form

In the caption of the answer form, you must include the following information:

  • The plaintiff's name (the person suing you as it is written in the complaint)
  • The defendant's name (your name)
  • The case number and division
  • The name of the court

Be sure to copy this information carefully from the summons, as incorrect information may lead to a rejection of your filing. If you aren't sure whether you've filled in the right information, ask the Clerk of Court's office to confirm the details of the initial filings.

Next, you want to create numbered paragraphs to match the amount in the complaint. You will then Answer each complaint, for example.

Let's say there are five allegations in the complaint. Your answer to the claims may look like this.

  1. Defendant denies the allegation.
  2. Defendant denies the allegation for lack of knowledge.
  3. Defendant denies the allegation for lack of knowledge.
  4. Defendant denies the allegation for lack of knowledge.
  5. Defendant denies the allegation for lack of knowledge.

Next, you will want to include your affirmative defenses.

Use SoloSuit to make effective affirmative defenses and win in court.

At the end of the answer form, is another section called the 'certificate of service.' This part requires you to state how you'll send a copy to the plaintiff. You can write the plaintiff's name and address or that of their attorney. Be sure to indicate the date you mailed the copy, as well as the method you used to deliver it.

You must make two copies of the answer: you keep one copy, send the other to the plaintiff. The original document is what you file with the Duval Clerk of Court.

The court then sends a notice indicating when the case is scheduled for a hearing that you must attend.

You must also be prepared to explain your position on the issue, dress appropriately, and arrive on time.

You Can File a Motion to Dismiss Instead of an Answer

A defendant should file a motion to dismiss after filing an answer with the court based on the following grounds:

  • If the plaintiff lacks jurisdiction over the person
  • If the plaintiff lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter
  • Insufficiency of the process
  • Failure to illustrate a cause of action
  • Improper venue
  • A poorly written complaint

Some attorneys may file a motion to dismiss in a bid to get the entire complaint dismissed or to delay the process. The most common reason for filing a motion to dismiss is 'failure to state the cause of action.' According to Florida state laws, the pleader/plaintiff must state a cause of action with short and plain jurisdiction grounds. Otherwise, the defendant can file a motion to dismiss the case.

If the court confirms a motion to dismiss the case, it has deemed the allegations contained in the complaint true and doesn't examine beyond this. However, the court isn't obliged to accept claims that aren't consistent with the law.

Methods for Filing an Answer

Defendants filing pro se or without an attorney can e-file or mail their document to the Duval Clerk of Court.

If you want to e-file, you will do so here.

If you chose to mail your document, you can do so here:

Duval County Clerk of Courts
501 West Adams Street, Room 1209
Jacksonville, FL 32202

Duval County Clerk of Courts
501 West Adams Street, Room 1046

This detailed guide should help you file a civil answer with the Duval Clerk of Courts in Florida. Be sure to include all your defenses as it gives you a better chance of successfully pleading your case.

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

Get Started

>>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

How to Answer a Summons for Debt Collection Guides for Other States

Here's a list of guides for other states.

All 50 states.

Guides on How to Beat Every Debt Collector

Being sued by a different debt collector? We're 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 Defendant's 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 Spouse's 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

You're Drowning in Debt — Here's How to Swim

Help! I'm 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? Here's 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