If you received a Summons and Complaint, you need to Answer the Complaint within 21 days or 28 days if you were served by first class mail. The correct regarding your name can be made in your Answer to the Complaint. You should seek an attorney regarding this so that you can properly defend yourself.
Tara Nichol is licensed only in the State of Michigan. All answers provided relate only to Michigan law and are made for general information purposes ONLY. They are NOT intended to be legal advice and are NOT intended to create an attorney-client relationship between Ms. Nichol and any readers or subscribers to avvo.com.
Managing Attorney at Nichol & Doering, PLLC
East Lansing, MI
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Briefly, complete information allows for the best assessment of your situation and how best to protect your interests. In Michigan, you must "file and serve" an answer (File means court receives answer timely; Serve means post-marked timely to the other parties attorney) or "take other lawful action" (File and serve a Motion which is too complicated to explain in this response) "within 21 days of personal service or "within 28 days of service by alternate means (posting and mail) or the other side automatically wins and a default judgment enters for the full amount plus costs, interest and fees. You will not get a court date if you do not answer the complaint. Do your self a favor and answer the complaint timely or hire an attorney. You may not get a second chance to undue your mistake if you don't set yourself up properly to defend yourself. You can always settle later. Don't let yourself get stringed along. If you are not an attorney you will likely not understand the process, your rights, and obligations. Don't count on the judge or the other attorney to be sympathetic or guiding to your lack of understanding. It is not their role. Yes, the corrected name change is most easily accomplished by an agreement for the correction. It is a simple housekeeping matter to address which should be brought to the court's attention right away. In filing an answer an affirmative defenses (points as to why their complaint should fail and be dismissed or diminished) and an affidavit (your sworn statement under oath which depending on the points it raises may cause problems for the Plaintiff) provides a line of defenses depending on the level of documentation that the collection attorney possess and this like any other collection matter requires that the consumer defendant (you) remind the court that it is incumbent upon the complaining party "plaintiff" to prove each and every element of its claim. After 16 years of debt collection and defense experience in and out of courts across this State, just because they think you owe the debt simply because it is "alleged" does not mean that you do not have rights or that the amount they claim owed (presuming standing) is accurate (this is where a complete accounting is demanded - how did they get from the account opening balance of zero to the current alleged amount). Now you are getting in the area that will make the other side go nuts because they hate being confronted with the tough questions and being required to prove their case. How do they prove their case? They should be required to produce admissible documentary (paper) evidence and witness testimony to substantiate the documents are trustworthy and accurate. Emphasize or establish a legal or factual argument placing into question material (important) issues that simply can not be resolved without a trial. The consumer collection attorneys in general do not wish to cooperate along these lines as this makes their job difficult. The problem you face if you chose to represent yourself is that you got to appear or your in default and when you appear without an attorney the other side will try to get all the evidence they need through your testimony alone. These issues though, are the best way to leverage a settlement for a discounted amount in a lump-sum payment and dismisses the case or with a smaller discount including manageable payment terms under a settlement agreement that dismisses the case now subject to reinstatement for entry of a pocket consent judgment in the event of default for non-payment of the terms of the settlement (in the event that you can not agree on and manage to pay a discounted lump-sum payment). This can be accomplished but it is usually difficult for a non-attorney representing themselves. Finally -AVOID - a default or a consent judgment entry as they will then most certainly garnish assets and cause you financial grief. So you may wish to consider hiring a consumer debt defense attorney.