You may feel overwhelmed and hopeless after being served with a civil chapter 61 warrant. But you must take action and respond to the lawsuit. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away, and you could end up owing even more money or losing your home.
It is important to respond to a Summons and Complaint, even if you do not agree with all or part of the debt. This guarantees that you will be able to present your defenses in court and provide evidence supporting your claims.
In Kansas, you must file an Answer document in response to a debt lawsuit. This document must be filed with your local court.
Answering a debt collection summons in Kansas
You only have a limited time to take action after being served with a summons and Complaint. According to Kansas Statutes 60-212 (A)(i), you must file an answer with the court within 21 days.
It is essential to file your Answer as soon as possible after receiving the Summons and Complaint. Please do so to avoid a default judgment being entered against you by the court.
You have 21 days to file your Answer with the court and provide the plaintiff with a copy. Make sure to give yourself a few days to account for filing and mailing and any potential complications that could arise.
Answers to Summons Forms in Kansas
The Kansas courts offer a general answer form for civil lawsuits, such as debt collection cases. This form responds to the summons and Complaint.
You will need to figure out how to respond to allegations made in a complaint to fill out a Kansas state answer form. Other than general information like your name, contact info, and attorney’s information (should you have one), you will also need to include identifying case information and filing date.
Kansas Filing Fees
To file an Answer with the court in the state of Kanas, there is no fee as long as your Answer only contains your reasons for denying the claim. However, should you want to file a Defendant’s Claim or counterclaim, the same filing fees will apply as those for the petitioner.
Those counterclaim filing fees are:
- $47.50 for claims up to $500
- $67.50 for claims up to $4,000
Including a filing fee is only necessary when filing a Counterclaim along with your Answer. It’s important to note that these are two distinct forms in Kansas.
Responding to a Debt Collection Case in Kansas
It may be tempting to ignore a Summons and Complaint from a debt collector, especially if you can’t afford to pay the debt. But this would be a mistake.
Defaulting on debt in Kansas comes with some pretty severe consequences. Not only will you be required to pay the debt, but you’ll also lose the opportunity to defend yourself in court. Your wages could be garnished, and you would have no say in whether you could afford it.
Filing an Answer in court allows you to present your side of the story and why you believe you don’t owe the debt. This also allows you to be in court to defend yourself and explain why you didn’t pay the debt. Effective affirmative defenses can sometimes lead to dismissal or debt reduction.
1. Prepare an answer document
In Kansas, your Answer document must begin with identifying information for you, as the plaintiff, and for your case. This information can be found in your debt Complaint and Summons documents. It must include the following:
- Who prepared the document
- Your name, address, phone number, and email address
- Your attorney’s name, if applicable.
- The name of the plaintiff
- The County in which the case was filed
- The case number
The court clerk’s office can provide you with the information you need to file your Answer, including the plaintiff’s information and case details. However, they cannot help you create your Answer.
2. Provide a response to every complaint
In this section, you will address each plaintiff’s complaints listed in their summons and Complaint. You will explain why you deny each claim made against you. This response should be organized by paragraph number corresponding to each Complaint.
The plaintiff will probably make several claims against you. You can agree or disagree with each claim, but remember that the plaintiff must provide evidence to support their case. For anything you question or deny, the burden is on the plaintiff to show why you are wrong.
3. Make affirmative defenses
In your Answer, you will list your affirmative defenses. These facts about your case or law require the plaintiff to lose. You must be able to back these up with evidence.
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When developing your affirmative defenses, make sure that you tailor them to your specific case and the reasons you deny the creditor’s claim. Do not just copy and paste from sources on the internet, as this will not be effective. Be prepared to explain why you chose a particular defense, as the judge or plaintiff’s attorney may ask for testimony on this matter.
There are a few things that you never want to use as an affirmative defense. Some of these include:
- Unfortunately, being unable to pay a debt due to financial hardship is not an acceptable affirmative defense. This is because, although the reason you haven’t paid the debt may be due to financial hardship, this does nothing to change the fact that you still owe the debt.
- In Kansas, you cannot simply claim that the creditor is at fault to avoid paying a debt. Even if the plaintiff made some mistake, the debt may still be legally owed. To file a claim against the plaintiff for any injury sustained, you must file a Defendant’s Claim with the appropriate Kansas court and pay the required filing fee.
That said, several affirmative defenses might apply to your case. Here are some of the most common:
- There is no original creditor or paper trail to show that this debt collector has a legal right to collect.
- The statute of limitations on filing a lawsuit to collect the debt has expired.
- There was no exchange of money or goods, which can sometimes void a contract.
- The plaintiff is a debt collector who purchased the debt. Still, the original creditor accepted funds for the debt, in part or in full, from a third party on your behalf, such as with some debt relief programs.
- The principal is accurate, but the interest and fees charged by the debt collector are unethical or exceed those allowed by law.
- Although legal fees were incurred during this case, reimbursement is not allowed as per the original contract agreement.
- You were the victim of identity theft and did not agree to the debt.
- The debt in question should be shared among other defendants who also owe it or part of it.
The defenses you can raise in response to a debt collection lawsuit will depend on the specifics of your case, including what was exchanged in the transaction, whether there was a written contract, and what the debt collector alleges in the Complaint. Be sure to tailor each defense to fit the facts of your particular situation.
4. File the Answer with the court and serve the plaintiff.
Your Certificate of Service is your statement declaring that you have mailed a copy of your Answer to the plaintiff or their attorney. This final section is essential to maintain communication and keep track of any legal proceedings.
It is essential to file your Answer with the court clerk’s office within 21 days, either by certified mail or in person. Filing in person is often the best option, as it guarantees that your Answer will be received on time. This is an essential step in ensuring that your case proceeds smoothly.
In addition to mailing a copy of the Answer to the plaintiff or their attorney, certified or express mail must be used, so the recipient must sign for receipt. This provides documentation that the document was received.
Statute of Limitations on Debt in Kansas
Creditors and debt collectors have a limited time to collect a debt. This is known as the statute of limitations. Once the creditor or debt collector misses their deadline, they can no longer collect on the debt.
In Kansas, there is a time limit for how long creditors can try to collect a debt. This time limit starts when you stop making payments on an account or when an account is closed. For debt collectors, this time limit begins when an original creditor closes an account or sells a debt.
Debt collectors and creditors may try to sue you for a debt older than the statute of limitations. However, in some cases, a judge may order you to pay the debt based on the evidence provided.
Legal Aid Organizations in Kansas
Many government-funded organizations provide free legal services to people across the United States. Each state has at least one of these organizations, and Kansas is no exception. These organizations can be great resources for questions about the legal process and how to handle a case.
Kansas Legal Services, Inc.
712 South Kansas Avenue, Suite 200
Topeka, Kansas 66603
It would help if you never ignored a debt summons. Being sued by a creditor or debt collector can be a stressful experience. Still, it is important to be aware of your rights and responsibilities in the case. Ignoring the summons will only worsen the situation, so it is best to face it head-on.
Debt collections can be complicated. You may owe the debt, or you may not. There is usually evidence to support either claim. When you are clear about the facts of your case, you can handle the matter successfully on your own.
The most important part of defending yourself in a lawsuit is your Answer. You must file this document correctly and according to the Kansas rules and regulations. Otherwise, you may end up with a default judgment against you.
Remember, the critical steps to responding to a debt collection Summons and Complaint are:
- Prepare your answer document
- Answer each claim raised by the plaintiff by paragraph number
- Prepare your affirmative defenses
- You should file your Answer with the court and mail it to the plaintiff or their attorney