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If a Creditor Takes You to Court for Unpaid Bills

Produced by Mariah Jennings-Rampsi, South Coastal Counties Legal Services, with funding from American College of Bankruptcy
Created June 2012

If a creditor takes you to court the creditor must “serve notice.” He must hire a sheriff or constable to deliver a summons and complaint to you. 

The complaint explains who is taking you to court and why.

The summons tells you when and where you need to go for a hearing or when to answer the complaint.

It is important to go to court on the day of the hearing and to answer the complaint on time.

You will not go to jail because you cannot pay your bills.

Your answer is your chance to explain what happened. Find out when and how you answer, what you can say in your answer, and what happens if you do not answer. It is always a good idea to get legal help

If the creditor or debt collector has broken any laws, you may not have to pay the whole amount. You may not have to pay anything if your income is "protected". You may be able to get help.

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You may be able to get free legal help from your local legal aid program. Or email a question about your own legal problem to a lawyer.

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