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Should I submit an "Answer" to a civil complaint?

Charleston, WV |

Recently I was served a civil complaint/summons. It says I have 20 days to respond. It states that if I fail to appear or answer, "judgment by default may be taken against me for the relief demanded in the complaint". Within the time frame I did submit a "Motion to dismiss due to lack of Jurisdiction." Specifically, jurisdiction over subject matter seeing as the plaintiff is truly seeking retroactive child support not "relief." The clerk of the magistrate told me that I should still submit an "Answer." By "Answering" to the Magistrate will I in fact be acknowledging their possible jurisdiction? And then by default could they deny my "Motion to Dismiss" and move forward despite the fact that this matter should be handled in family court?

Attorney Answers 3


YES! Unless you don't want to defend the suit and pay up. See an attorney.

My answers to questions are for general purposes only and do not constitute legal advice or establish any attorney-client relationship.

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You should probably hire a lawyer, because the system is complex, and your question indicates that you are having difficulties with it. You need to file an answer, and raise affirmative defenses, one of which should be lack of subject matter jurisdiction if you believe it appropriate.

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You can and should file an answer and a motion to dismiss simultaneously.

To questioners from West Virginia & New York: Although I am licensed to practice in your state (in WV, on inactive status as of 9/13), I practice on a day-to-day basis in Massachusetts. I answer questions in your state in areas of the law in which I practice, and in which I feel comfortable trying to offer you assistance based on my knowledge of specific statutes in your state and/or general principles applicable in all states. It is always best, however, to work with attorneys and court personnel in your own area to deal with specific problems and factual situations.

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