How to Answer a Court Summons in New Jersey

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A summons is a legal document submitted by a court or a government agency. The purpose of a summons is to let a person know that a legal proceeding has been filed against that person, and that the case is already in the initiating court. In the State of New Jersey, if you have received a summons, you have 35 days upon receipt of the summons to file an answer or a complaint. Failure to do so within 35 days will result in a default judgment placed against the defendant.

Things You'll Need

  • 8.5-by-11 inch white paper
  • 2 Envelopes
  • Black pen
  • $135 check or money order
  • Write your answer. The answer must state whether you admit to or deny the allegations made by the plaintiff. Everything must be stated in simple sentences, including every defense a person may have against the plaintiff. A response must be given to each paragraph in the complaint, stating whether the allegations are either affirmed or denied. One can also state if the defendant does not possess enough information to know if the allegations are true. After filling in the answer to the complaint, the defendant must sign and date the remaining statements. If the defendant prefers to have a trial by jury, that person can sign that area.

  • Complete the Civil Case Information Statement (CIS). The completed CIS form must be filed with the answer. Failure to do so may result in the having the answer forms being returned.

  • Secure payment to the State Treasurer of New Jersey. In New Jersey, the fee for filing an answer as of May 2011 was $135. The check or the money order must be payable to "Treasurer, State of New Jersey".

  • Check the completed forms and make copies. Once the forms are completed and the defendant has signed all the appropriate places, at least six copies of the forms must be made. All financial information and social security numbers, drivers license numbers, or insurance policy numbers must be covered by black ink so that it cannot be seen or used in any way. However, if an active financial account is used in the case, the last four digits of the account may be used.

  • Send the completed forms to the court. The package must include: the original complaint plus two copies of the answer and the CIS, the filing fee ($135) addressed to the Treasurer of the State of New Jersey, a copy of the CIS and the answer. You may personally deliver the papers to the court or it can be mailed. Check the summons itself to see which New Jersey court it was issued from.

  • Mail CIS and Answer to all parties involved. This must be mailed within 35 days of the date of receipt of the summons and complaint. Look on the summons for the plaintiff's mailing address. The defendant must send the papers through certified mail return receipt requested. You must keep the green return receipt card when returned by the plaintiff as proof of service.

Tips & Warnings

  • If a default judgment is entered by the court due to a failure to file a response to a complaint, the County Sheriff is allowed take hold of a person's money, wages and property to pay the sum or a portion of the judgment.

References

  • Photo Credit PhotoObjects.net/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images
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