How do I Respond to a County Court Summons?

M. Lupica

If you have been served a county court summons, there are certain general options that you will want to keep in mind, although the form and process by which you may respond varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In responding to the county court summons you will have to respond to all the facts contained in the accompanying complaint. Additionally, there are some defenses that may only be raised in this response such as asserting that the court may not extend jurisdiction over you. Last, you want to be sure you deliver copies of the response to the appropriate court as well as the person who is suing you.

A defendant has 21 days to file a response after a plaintiff files a summons and complaint in court.
A defendant has 21 days to file a response after a plaintiff files a summons and complaint in court.

The purpose of a county court summons is to notify the person on whom it is served that they are being sued. The summons will describe the venue for the suit, the name and location of the plaintiff’s attorney, and a time frame in which you must respond or automatically lose the case. Generally, accompanying the summons will be a copy of the complaint that was filed against you. The complaint describes the charges at length and in great detail. This document is the key to understanding the case that has been presented against you.

Your response to a county court summons is called an “answer” as it entails you answering the charges that have been levied against you. Some jurisdictions will allow you to give a general denial to the charges offered, but many require that you answer or confirm each specific fact described in the complaint. Additionally, you will have to assert any defenses to the charges. After you draft an answer according to the guidelines of your jurisdiction, you are usually required to send one copy to the court in which the case is being tried and one copy to the plaintiff or his or her representative.

There are some defenses that typically must be raised in the answer or you will be barred from raising them later in the case. Most of these have to do with procedure so they are easy to identify. An example of one such defense that must be raised in response to the county court summons is that the court in which the case was filed does not have jurisdiction over you because you do not live in the appropriate geographic area. Another procedural defense that usually must be raised in the answer is an inadequate service of process. In other words, you may assert that you were not presented with the summons in a manner that fits your jurisdiction’s rules for delivering such documents.

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


@Logicfest -- Exactly right. And there is something else important to do when you get a summons and complaint. Do not ignore them.

It is surprising how many people get sued, don't do anything about it and then go hire an attorney when a judgment is entered against them and they start getting their wages garnished.

The problem with that plan is that you generally can't do much about a judgment after it has been entered. If you don't file an answer to a complaint, how can you fight a lawsuit? That answer is usually your only shot to make sure you join in the suit.


In general, it is a good idea to raise as many affirmative defenses, counterclaims and crossclaims in the answer as possible. Most will not be barred from late use if you don't bring them up in the answer and you can specifically reserve the right to file an amended pleading.

But, why take that chance?

Post your comments
Forgot password?