How do I answer a civil action claim for a debt I owed?
When served with a complaint, a proper response is the filing of an answer. Defenses should be raised in the answer, however, inability to pay is generally not considered a sufficient defense. It is a matter od personal judgment whether you wish to call the opposing party's attorney, but I wouldn't expect the complaint to be withdrawn at this point based on inability to pay. It isn't recommended to communicate to the judge without the other party present, as it may be a prohibited ex parte communication.
An answer is a legally sufficient response to the allegations that have been alleged against you in the complaint. The answer will generally either admit or deny each claim made by paragraph, or state an inability to admit or deny for lack of knowledge. Defenses may also be raised. A counterclaim or cross claim may also be asserted.
By filing an answer, you have insured that a default judgment will not be entered against you without an opportunity to be heard. A certificate of service is attached to the answer to prove that a copy was delivered to the opposing party(ies). Discovery is the method used to gather information from opposing parties. A request for production is used to obtain documents, such as contracts, that are in the other party's control. A subpeona duces tecum may also be used to require a witness to bring items along at the summoned appearance.
A number of defenses are available to defendants who are sued for breach of contract. For example, a defendant might assert that no breach was committed because the parties never actually formed a contract due to the lack of an offer, an acceptance, consideration, mutuality of obligation, or a writing. Alternatively, a defendant might assert that he or she lacked capacity to enter the contract, arguing that the contract should be declared void on the grounds that the defendant was incompetent, insane or intoxicated at the time it was entered. The law also affords defendants several other defenses in breach of contract actions. They include:
(4) undue influence; and
Please see the forms at the links below for examples of answers. The precise form of the response will vary by the circumstances in each case, so our forms may be modified to suit your needs.