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  • By: Mireya Lacayo, Esq.
  • Published: November 2, 2022
I Got Served But Didn’t Answer… What Now?

Being served can be a scary feeling. Seeing your name on legal documents and reading “A lawsuit has been filed against you” just might be one of your Top 10 scary moments. Unfortunately, pretending you didn’t receive the papers served on you won’t make the case go away.

What Happens If I Don’t Respond?

If you’ve been served any documents, you have twenty calendar days to file responsive documents and serve them on the other side. Contrary to popular belief, twenty days does include weekends and holidays.

If you fail to file or serve any documents within twenty days of being served, the other party may file a “Motion for Entry of Clerk’s Default,” requesting the Clerk of the Circuit Court enter a default against you. Generally speaking, a default will grant the moving party whatever relief they’ve request.

In the alternative, the Court may also enter a default against a party if the Court finds that one party failed to file or serve any document in the action. This is a “judicial” default.

The Other Side Didn’t Respond, How Do I Get A Default Entered Against Them?

To obtain the entry of a default, you’ll need to fill out and file a Motion for Default, along with the Default. If the Clerk finds your Motion is proper, the Clerk of the Circuit Court may enter the default.

After the default has been entered, you may ask for a hearing on your Petition/Motion, so that the Judge can consider your Petition/Motion.

A Default Was Entered Against Me. How Can I Fix This?

If you notice that a Default has not yet been entered against you, you can answer or file any responsive documents before the Clerk enters it. If the default has already been entered, and you attempt to file any documents, the Clerk will alert you of the Default.

There is hope, however. The Court may set aside a default or default judgment that has been entered against you. If you believe, because of a mistake, inadvertence, excusable neglect, newly discovered evidence, or fraud, that is should not have been entered against you, you can file a Motion to Set Aside Default or Default Judgment.

Filing a Motion to Set Aside Default or Default Judgment does not guarantee that a default or default judgment will be set aside.

If a default has been entered against you, or if the other side has failed to respond to your Petition/Motion, contact our office today to discuss your options!

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