1

Help I've been served! What does this mean?

When you receive a service of process attached to a complaint requesting foreclosure it can be a very frightening experience. The 20 day deadline to respond is a ticking clock but it is not the "eviction date". It is the date you must respond to the court in written form answering the complaint that was attached to your notice. It is the first notification that a legal action was filed with the court and you were named as a defendant.

2

Don't sit on your rights DO SOMETHING!

Do not try to do this alone. Do find an attorney practicing in your area that knows how to defend foreclosures, this means both real property law, and consumer law. If you feel you cannot afford an attorney tell them and they will either work with you through some sort of payment plan or will direct you to a local legal aid if you qualify. Attorneys provide a service and unlike TV portrays us we really are service oriented! Many attorneys are willing to find creative payment plans or other options. At the consultation your attorney will probably need to review all of the documents you have so gather them together including bills, notices, records of any communication or letters you wrote or received a log of your phone calls etc... Your attorney will respond to the court on your behalf and in this answer they will raise specific legal defenses that you may not even know you have.

3

What's the use anyway?

When you hire an attorney all further contact from the courts and from the lender should be sent directly to your attorney. This means no more late notices and late night threatening phone calls. Florida consumer protection laws allow for penalties against lenders that do not comply. A contested foreclosure suit can take years to reach final judgment and often you will be able to stay in your home during this entire time without having to make the mortgage payment.

4

Breathe.

I generally advise my clients during this time to continue to stash away the amount of their monthly mortgage in an account. (When it was a payment that they could afford of course.) In this way my clients will create a cushion, it will show the court that you are acting in good faith and that you were willing pay a reasonable mortgage amount. If you don't trust yourself from spending it ask your attorney to hold it in their trust account. This keeps you in monthly contact with your attorney and it means your money is held in trust by your attorney for you. Don't be afraid. Your attorney is ethically bound to take great care of your money and they will not take any costs or fees from this money unless you agree to it.

5

Imagine That!

If the lender did not comply with specific laws that were enacted to protect borrowers, such as yourself, the entire mortgage may be held invalid by the judge and that means it will be completely removed from your property. Your attorney may also have raised counterclaims back against the lender if they have violated any of several consumer protection statutes & laws. If these claims succeed these laws and statutes provide for the harmed consumer (YOU) to actually recover all of your attorneys fees and costs and you may even get additional penalty funds against the lender.