Answer to Summons & Complaint: If you are served with a summons and complaint, this means that someone has filed a lawsuit against you. A summons notifies you that you have been sued and informs you that you must respond to the lawsuit within a certain period of time.
Answer Civil Summons:
A complaint sets forth the reason(s) and the basis for the lawsuit filed against you.
You must file an answer within the specified time frame, usually 20 days, or you will lose your right to defend yourself and participate in the court proceedings.
Except for a summons for eviction, you have twenty (20) days for an Answer to Civil Summons.
When is the last day to file your answer to complaint?
Count twenty days starting with the day after you are served, and count every day, including Saturdays and Sundays.
A summons for eviction of a rental property gives you only five (5) working days to file your answer with the court.
Count five days starting with the day after you are served the summons.
Do not count Saturdays, Sundays, or legal holidays.
If you do not file an answer or meet the deadline, the person, company, or legal entity filing the lawsuit will win a judgment against you. This is called a default.
Can a Default Be Reversed?
Several circumstances exist where a default can be challenged. If you were not properly notified of the lawsuit through a process called service or if you did not have a chance to respond are common grounds for challenging a default.
You should seek legal advice immediately if you receive a default judgment or if you do not understand the response time frames to challenge a default.
How Do I Answer the Summons?
Read the complaint or petition to see why you are being sued and what the person wants the court to do. Then write an answer to civil summons. It is best to respond to each numbered paragraph of the complaint or petition.
Every allegation in a complaint is usually given a number. You should number your answer the same way. If you have other facts that you want the judge to know, add additional numbered paragraphs.
Place your responses under the heading “Answer.” You may refer to the sample answer format below.
Attachments to the Answer
After you have written your responses, be sure to fill in the other blanks such as the names of the parties and the case number.
If you are attaching any copies of important documents, write the names of these documents under the heading "Attachments" at the bottom of the page (above your signature).
Make sure you attach copies as your attachments. Never attach the originals. These you should keep for your own records.
Process of Service
Finally, take a look at the last paragraph of your answer. Choose how you will give a copy to the party filing the lawsuit, either hand-deliver or by mail, then sign and date the answer.
Make at least two copies of your answer to civil summons. File the original, with any attachments, with the Clerk of the Court where the complaint was filed.
Look at the top of the summons to see if it was filed in the County or Circuit Civil Court. Once your original answer is filed, the court will keep you advised of all upcoming hearings.
You must mail one copy of your answer to civil summons with any attachments to the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s attorney. Look at the name and address on the summons to see where to send the plaintiff’s copy. Keep one copy in a safe place for your records.
Should I Get Legal Advice?
Yes. Seek advice from an attorney if you have any questions or if you need assistance in preparing your defense. Don't delay. If you miss the deadline for responding with an answer to the complaint, you may give up your rights to defend the action.If you need legal advice, we recommend LagalMatch's free Lawyer Referral Service. Many lawyers offer free initial consultations. Get the legal advice you deserve. Free Lawyer Referral
SAMPLE ANSWER TO COMPLAINT AND SUMMONS
IN THE COUNTY/CIRCUIT COURT,
IN AND FOR ______________ COUNTY, FLORIDA
CASE NO: _____________________
ANSWER TO ______________________
City, State, Zip Code
I hereby certify that a copy hereof has been furnished by hand-delivery/mail to Plaintiff/ Plaintiff’s attorney this _____ day of ___________, 20__.
Call us toll free: (800) 868-3010
Judges love it when Pro Se litigants are well prepared. We offer fast & affordable legal document preparation services.
Get a Free Quote. Call Florida Court Forms toll free or just click the button below for your free quote.
Fully Interactive Forms Packet. Includes sample forms with instructions, common affirmative defenses, glossary of legal terms found in civil lawsuits, and more.
The Answer to Civil Complaint & Summons is suitable for anyone who has been served with a Civil Complaint & Summons and needs to fill out and file an answer before time runs out.