I frequently get asked “What Happens if they Don’t Answer the Complaint?”
The process is as follows: First, I file the Summons and Complaint with the Court.
Then, I have my process server serve the Defendant(s) with the Summons and Complaint. If the Defendant is a business, I always file through the Secretary of State so that the Defendant cannot argue they were not served properly.
After that, the Defendant has 20-30 days to answer the complaint.
If the Defendant does not appear and answer the complaint, I mail a second copy to the Defendant(s).
If the Defendant still doesn’t answer the complaint, I make a motion for a default judgment.
Usually, the Defendant will show up at this point and I will withdraw the motion.
If the Defendant does not show up and the motion for a default judgment is granted, then one of three things can happen.
1. I/Plaintiff proves how much the defendant owes the Plaintiff and the judge grants Plaintiff that amount at the motion for a default judgment. Then, I try to collect from Defendant.
2. There is a trial, called an inquest, where I/Plaintiff have to prove how much Plaintiff is owed and that the defendant(s) is the one that owes the Plaintiff the money and why. Then, I try to collect from the Defendant.
3. The Defendant decides to show up and I have to vacate the default judgment order or the Defendant makes a motion to vacate the default judgment order. The judge will grant a vacate order 90 percent of the time as long as not enough time has passed that it will prejudice the case.
The best thing for any case is the Defendant appears. Chasing the Defendant and Defendant’s assets is never easy, and it is time-consuming.
I hope that answers your question.
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