One of the most common things we see in foreclosure actions is our client’s failure to respond to the foreclosure lawsuit in a timely manner. The failure to respond to a lawsuit can create serious problems in defending a foreclosure case.
If you do not respond to a complaint filed against you within twenty (20) days of being served, a default may be entered against you. A default basically means you admit the truth of the allegations in the complaint, and the Plaintiff has a clear road ahead to get a final judgment against you. If defaulted, you are on the sidelines of the lawsuit, and not permitted to defend anything stated in the lawsuit.
If you have not filed a formal answer in time and have been defaulted, there is a procedure for relief. It requires additional work and should be avoided if at all possible. If there is a default against you for failing to file a formal answer you must satisfy a three (3) step test for the Court to determine whether to set aside a default:
(1) Whether you demonstrated excusable neglect in failing to respond;
(2) Whether you have a meritorious defenses; and
(3) Whether you, after learning of the default, acted quickly (demonstrated due diligence) in seeking relief.
If you are unsure about the status of a legal case filed against you, or if you have been defaulted, it still may be possible to do something in response, depending on the facts of your case. While it is usually best to deal with legal papers filed against you right away, if you have been defaulted, it may be possible to deal with the lawsuit and work toward a resolution if the above three-part test is met.