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How do you answer a civil summons?

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Quick Answer

Answer a civil summons by either trying to work out a resolution with the plaintiff or filing an answer within the appropriate amount of time as outlined by the relevant law, as the Civil Law Self-Help Center explains. You can also file a motion to dismiss, which allows you more time to respond to the summons.

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Full Answer

The most common way to respond to a lawsuit is to file an answer, as the Civil Law Self-Help Center notes. The answer allows you the opportunity to respond to the allegations against you, and you can also outline your affirmative defenses to the claims. Filing an answer also prevents the judge from issuing the plaintiff a default judgement against you. It also notifies the other party and the court that you intend to defend against the lawsuit.

If you decide to file a motion to dismiss, there are a few reasons that allow you to do so. The first is a lack of jurisdiction, which means that the court does not have jurisdiction over you, as the Civil Law Self-Help Center explains. The second is insufficient service, which means that the summons and complaint were not properly served on you by the defendant. The third is the failure to state a claim, which means that the plaintiff did not state a legal claim against you and no relief is legally available to the plaintiff based on the allegations in the complaint.

If you file a motion to dismiss, you don't have to file an answer until the judge decides on the motion. If you win, the judge dismisses the case. If the judge denies the motion, you must file an answer within 10 days, as the Civil Law Self-Help Center details.

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