Often, our Clients are not sure what to do when they are served with a lawsuit by a creditor or debt collector. We advise that the best policy is that when you are served with a Summons and Complaint, you should immediately consult with an experienced New Jersey Attorney who can provide legal advice in both Debt Collection and Bankruptcy alternatives.
If you are experiencing significant debt problems and you are concerned that your assets or income may be subjected to debt collection, you should immediately consult with an experienced, New Jersey Bankruptcy attorney to learn your rights and how the laws may protect you and your property.
If you are served with a Summons and Complaint and you believe you have a defense to the claim, you or your attorney must file a written answer or motion and proof of service with the deputy clerk of the Superior Court within 35 days from the date you received this summons, not counting the date you received it. If you do not file and serve a written answer or motion within 35 days, the court may enter a judgment against you for the relief plaintiff demands, plus interest and costs of suit.
Caution: It has been our experience that Defendants sometime contact the attorneys who represent the creditor who is suing them to dispute the debt. This will not stop a judgment from being entered. Failure to File an Answer to a Complaint May Cause You to Lose a Valid Defense to the Law Suit.
If you cannot afford an attorney, you may call the Legal Services office in the county where you live. Visit the following Directory for the best contact information. If you do not have an attorney and are not eligible for free legal assistance, you may obtain a referral to an attorney by calling one of the Lawyer Referral Services.
Representing Yourself: If you want to represent yourself, you must send an Answer to the court and the the filing fee to file your Answer. Read the information on the Summons Carefully. For an outline of how to file an answer, the evidence you should present to the Court and the fees to be paid when you file go to Pro SE Forms or NJ Courts Online.
Representation by an Attorney– If the Complaint filed against you seeks payment of a substantial amount of money, it may be in your interest to retain an attorney to represent you. New Jersey Debt Collection law requires that, before a judgment is entered, proof of the debt must be submitted to the Court in the form required by the New Jersey Rules of Evidence. A defendant may also benefit from claiming so called Affirmative Defenses. It has been our experience that raising objections and defenses to claims against a defendant may result in either settlement of the claim for a lesser amount or dismissal of the complaint.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT DEFENSES TO LAWSUITS UNDER NEW JERSEY AND BANKRUPTCY LAW.