IF YOU ARE SUED FOR A DEBT THAT YOU OWE
You may be served with papers informing you that you have been sued. If you do not owe the debt or cannot afford to pay the debt, you should write a letter to the court and "deny the allegations in the Plaintiff's Original Petition" and request a trial. You should send a copy of this letter to the opposing counsel by fax or certified mail and be sure to retain the certified mail receipts. You should make sure that you put the docket number of the lawsuit, i.e., the long number on the top of the first page of the Plaintiff's Original Petition, on your letter so the court will know which suit you are writing about. You do not have long to file your affidavit or write your letter to the court after you are sued. You only have about 10 days from the date you are served to file your Answer or letter in Justice court and 20 days in other courts, so do not delay. Alternatively, try to retain an attorney to assist you.
After you have been sued, you may also receive several documents: Request for Disclosures, Interrogatories, Request for Production of Documents and Things, and Request for Admissions. Responses are due within 50 days after you were served. If you read through these requests, you will see a list of questions from the creditor asking you to tell them what people, papers and things you'll be bringing to the hearing to support your answer. They may also ask you to state your view of the facts of the matter. And they may also ask you to give them copies of certain papers (checks or receipts), or allow them to inspect certain things (goods they sold you). You must answer these questions as fully and as truthfully as you can, and allow them to see the papers and things, by the dates given on the requests. If you don't, the court could rule for the creditor.
In particular, you should respond to any request for admissions by denying any statements you disagree with or by stating your inability to admit or deny certain statements because you do not know whether the statement is true or not. If you fail to respond, you probably will lose at trail or even earlier, because you may have admitted all the points the creditor has to prove. After court receives your answer/affidavit or letter, it will send you a letter telling you the time, date, and place of your hearing. YOU MUST SHOW UP FOR THE HEARING. If you don't show up for the hearing, the court could rule for your creditor. Please be aware that showing up for the hearing is not the same as filing an answer. You must do both, or risk losing in court. It would be wise to get there early. Bring all the people who will be speaking for you, and all the papers and things that you will be using to support your case. (Such as bills you received, checks you wrote, or damaged goods.) At the hearing, the creditor will get to speak first. When they have finished, you will be allowed to ask them questions you might have about what was said or shown to support their case. Then you will get your turn to speak. When you have finished, the creditor will be allowed to ask questions about what was said or shown to support your case. When both sides have nothing further to say or show and no more questions, the court will make a decision. It would be a good idea to write down what you wan to say before going to the hearing.
The creditor may get a judgment against you, which is an order by the court for you to pay the debt plus court costs, interest and attorney fees. The court will send you a notice telling you how much you owe and when the payments are due. But if you cannot pay the debt, the creditor cannot take your home, your household goods, your car, put you in jail or send your children to foster care. If they cannot collect the money from you, they will likely file an Abstract or Judgment in the county land records office. This means they will have a claim called a lien for the amount of the judgment against any land you own OTHER THAN YOUR HOMESTEAD. In other words, the judgment has absolutely no legal effect on your homestead. The Abstract of Judgment is only meant to allow the creditor to collect what you have been ordered to pay them. It does not allow them to foreclose on or take your home or land. But it could make it difficult for you to sell your home or land. Any difficulty, however, can be addressed by filing an affidavit. It could also make it hard for you to borrow money and could hurt your credit rating. Even so, you should not sacrifice your basic needs (food, housing, utilities, medicines, transportation, etc.) trying to pay a judgment.
Rather than represent yourself, you will usually be better served if you can retain an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, contact your local legal aid office.