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Can I File an Answer to a Complaint with Special Civil?

Question and Answer

Can I File an Answer to a Complaint with Special Civil?

If you have been named as a defendant in a case, you must file a written answer to the complaint with the Office of the Special Civil Part in the county in which the complaint was filed within the number of days stated in the summons (35 days). You also must hand deliver, or send by regular mail, a copy of this answer to the plaintiff's attorney or send it by regular and certified mail to the plaintiff if they do not have an attorney. An answer packet for self-represented litigants, with accompanying instructions, is available in any New Jersey Special Civil Part Office and is available on the Internet at njcourts.gov.

If you believe that the plaintiff owes you money, you must add a counterclaim to the answer. If you believe that someone else named as a defendant in the complaint owes the money, you must add to the answer a cross-claim against that defendant. Finally, if you believe that a party not named in the complaint owes the money, you must add a third-party complaint to the answer. When filing an answer, be sure to give the following information:

  • The docket number and caption of the case which appears on the complaint.
  • Your full name, address and telephone number.
  • The correct name(s) and address(es) of the plaintiff(s).
  • The reason(s) you are disputing the plaintiff's claim. Include the amount of money for which you are suing, if you are including a counterclaim, cross-claim or third-party complaint with your answer.
  •  Do not provide any party’s “confidential and personal identifiers”* in the answer or in any other submission to the court unless specifically required under law, court order, rule or administrative directive.
  • You must complete the summons form if you are filing an answer that includes a third-party complaint (a new party is being added to the lawsuit by you). You must also pay the applicable service fees, as the court is required to serve the answer and third party complaint, on your behalf, upon the new party(ies) that you are adding to the lawsuit.

You also must sign the answer, and pay the correct fling fees, when filing the answer with the Office of the Special Civil Part.

If you do not respond to the complaint in writing within the number of days listed on the summons, a "judgment by default" may be entered against you. Through a judgment by default, the court decides the amount of money, if any, to be awarded to the plaintiff because you did not answer the complaint in time. If you have answered the complaint on time, the court will notify you by mail of the trial date.

* A “confidential personal identifieris defined as a social security number, driver’s license number, vehicle plate number, insurance policy number, active financial account number or active credit card number. You can provide the last 4 digits of a party’s active financial account if it is the subject of the lawsuit and cannot otherwise be identified.