It is a long trip several states away. I have recently come out of a long divorce and have now become unemployed. I have virtually no assets left and am facing bankruptcy. Do I need to go or how do I avoid a long trip that I cannot pay for never mind higher a lawyer. What are penalties if I do not show. It is the first time in court for this case and was only recently served papers to appear. Any advice
If you do not go, or are not represented by counsel, the LL may receive a default judgment against you from the court (i.e. you lose the case) adn the LL may then seek to enforce that judgment in your new state, garnish wages (when you are re-employed), lien on property etc.
Have you contacted legal aid? If you qualify, you may receive assistance from lawyers who offer pro bono time that most states require of attroneys. Use Google to locate legal aid in your state and call them immediately--since you just received papers, you likely have a return date of two or three weeks from now. Do not delay. If trouble comes in threes, this is it for you and you'll be on an upswing of good fortune after the LL-Tenant dispute.... Best of luck.
READ THIS BEFORE CALLING OR EMAILING ME: I am licensed to practice before the state and federal courts in Virginia. We have not established an attorney-client relationship unless we have a signed representation agreement and you have paid me. I am providing educational instruction only--not legal advice. You should speak with an attorney to whom you have provided all the facts, before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. I am not obligated to answer subsequent emails or phone calls unless you have hired me. I wish you the best of luck with your situation.
Real Estate Attorney
I agree with Attorney Rafter in that you should not ignore this, you run the risk of being defaulted. At the very least, call the clerk of the court (the number should be on the suit that you received) and the clerk will instruct you on how to file an answer and appearance on your behalf. You do not have to physically go to court to file these documents. Once you do that, you will get notice of a court date when you do have to appear and by that time you may have an attorney who can appear for you.
This answer is an answer to a general legal forum question and does not constitute legal advice on your case nor does it create a client relationship.
Administrative Law Lawyer
I agree with the prior answers. You cannot ignore this matter without grave consequences. So, do contact an attorney, private or public, or answer yourself. If you admit you owe him something, you might also get word to the Plaintiff that you are judgment proof and suggest a written agreement to pay something on the debt, with or without small periodic payments.