Pleading Stage: Filing A Complaint or Responding To A Complaint

Learn about the pleading stage, when the parties file documents with the court that tell the other side about their legal claims and defenses. The party suing (the “plaintiff”) files a document (called a "complaint") to start the case and outline the claims against the party being sued (the “defendant”). When the defendant receives the complaint, they have a short window to file some type of response (an "answer" or maybe a "motion") to state their defenses or attack the complaint.

Filing A Complaint To Start Your Case

Learn about the requirements for preparing and filing a civil complaint, including how to prepare a summons, along with some cautions about when filing a complaint could get you into trouble.

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Serving Your Complaint

Learn the requirements for “serving” (delivering) your summons and complaint to the party you are suing, including tips on how to serve individuals, how to serve businesses, and what to do if you are unable to serve your summons and complaint.

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Responding To A Complaint If You've Been Sued

Learn what to do if you’ve been served with a summons and complaint, including how much time you have to respond and what options might be available to you. Remember that if you do nothing, the person suing you can ask the court for a money judgment against you!

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