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What To Do When You Are Served With A Summons And Complaint In Illinois

Anyone can be named in a lawsuit. This process starts with the case being filed at the courthouse and then having the named defendants served with a summons and complaint. In Illinois, a County Sheriff will usually arrive at your home and hand you or anyone over the age of 13 with a summons and a copy of the complaint. Once you receive these papers the court has jurisdiction over your person, by law. Your next step is to contact an attorney quickly, after reading the paperwork carefully. The summons will explain when you need to pay for and file your appearance in the case. The appearance is the document that acknowledges your presence in the case, and there is a fee with this filing, unless you lack the funds to pay. If you cannot pay the appearance fee due to unemployment, you should go to the clerk of court's office at the courthouse and request information on getting a filing fee waiver. Usually there are people on hand to assist with this process at the clerk's office. The appearance form also alerts the clerk's office where to send notices of any upcoming court dates. I suggests filing an appearance within 7 days of being served with the paperwork, even if you have not retained an attorney. If you fail to file your appearance within the prescribed time, usually within 30 days, you may be subject to a default judgment by the court. Your attorney can always file his additional appearance later. Remember, find an attorney quickly. If you have difficulty doing so, contact your local bar association for a referral. Be sure to make all court appearances on time with an attorney to represent your interests.

Additional resources provided by the author

Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois (312) 443-5500

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