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Using Affirmative Defenses in Your Answer to a Debt Lawsuit

Written by: Kristy Welsh

Last Updated: August 21, 2017

Our article entitled Are You Being Sued? Learn How to Answer a Summons and Complaint explains the mechanics of what to do if you are served a Summons and Complaint. An important part of filing your Answer is to include a list of Affirmative Defenses. Affirmative defenses include any defense, in fact or law, which would prevent the Plaintiff from winning the case. These defenses should be listed at the end of your answer after the section where you have responded to each and every individual complaint made by the Plaintiff. Affirmative defenses should always be used when you file your answer with the court. If you do not give them in your answer, you lose the right to bring them up in court later.

Using Affirmative Defenses in Your Answer

You need to look up the rules of civil procedure in your state to see if it is proper to use any of these defenses and customize them to be specific to your state's laws. Many of these defenses will not be relevant to your case and some courts may not allow them. Using the entire list is total overkill, and could make you look like you don't know what you are doing. This could really hurt your case. Please tailor your defenses, DON'T JUST CUT AND PASTE. If you do not understand fully what a defense means, don't use it. You may be asked in court why you chose a particular defense, so be prepared.

Most Common Affirmative Defenses

The following list is by no means an exhausting listing of defenses but rather the most common and useful ones to use in a debt lawsuit. A complete list can be endless and would include any and all defenses you can use which would likely prevent the Plaintiff from winning his case. You need to make sure you not only list your affirmative defense by name but you also add facts to support this defense.

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More Affirmative Defenses You Can Use in a Lawsuit

Consider each of the below affirmative defenses to see if they potentially apply to your case. The vast majority of these may not apply to your specific case, but reviewing these may help you brainstorm and think of some other defenses you may be able to use. Again, these are not a "one size fits all" type of defenses, make sure to tailor them to fit your particular case.

Please note: WE ARE NOT ATTORNEYS. If you are being sued, it's always a good idea to hire an attorney or get some legal assistance. If you cannot afford an attorney, a lot of people have handled their cases pro per or without a lawyer. Our articles are meant to provide basic information on handling litigation.

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