When you are sued, somebody filed a document with the court describing that they are suing you, what they are suing you for, and why they think the court should give them what they are suing you for. You are then “served” with this “petition,” usually by a sheriff, to let you know what is happening and give you the chance to defend yourself.
- If the documents you were served with set a court date, you need to show up then to defend yourself, preferably with a lawyer. If the documents do not set a court date you need to file documents by the date set on the papers you were given, or the other side can get a judgment against you, without telling you anything more about it.
- Your “Answer” responding to the petition usually responds to each claim made in the petition, number by number. But the help of a lawyer is important in preparing the response, since certain defenses are lost if not raised. Some are not direct responses to the petition and yet may end the suit or reduce the amount you owe. When you respond to a petition, you could also raise any claims you have against the person suing you at that time. A lawyer will be able to help you determine if you have a good case against the person that is suing you.
- The amount of time that you have to respond to a petition depends on the court and will be written on the court papers served on you. It begins the day you were served with the papers. If you are not sure of the date you were served, don’t be late. You can call the court to find out the date you were served.
- If you do not properly respond to a petition within the time listed in the court papers, the court can enter a judgment against you without any further notice. This means that the court may give the person suing you everything that they asked for. If you can’t find an attorney to prepare a response in time, you can ask the court for more time. This is done by a motion for extension of time to respond. If the judge grants this motion, you can get up to 30 extra days to respond to the suit.
- We have a motion for you to fill in. Except in federal court, it needs to be on legal-sized white paper, double-spaced, and written in English. The margins of your document need to be 2" at the top and 1" on the sides and bottom.
Here are some important warnings.
- When filling out the motion, you need to fill in all the blanks labeled with a shaded number.
- If you have been served with notice of any court dates, the court will try to keep these dates if possible. You need to fill in the date and time of any hearing officer conferences, commissions, or district court dates on the form. If there are any, be sure to check if your motion for more time has been granted, because it might not be.
- A form like this needs to be filed for each person who is sued, or they are not protected. Unless you are an attorney or have a notarized power of attorney specifically saying you can take action in litigation, you cannot sign for anyone else but yourself. Any other people that are being sued in the case will need to sign their own motion and see that it gets filed. If they do not, a final judgment can be sought against them for not filing a response to the suit in time.
- You are required to serve all papers filed with the court on the other “parties” in the case. The certificate at the end of the document certifies that you mailed a copy of your motion to the attorney suing you, or if no attorney is involved, to the person suing you.
- When you have filled out your motion, you need to file it with the clerk of court in the same court that is hearing your case. There can be more than one court in the same courthouse, so pay careful attention that you file your motion with the court that is listed at the top of the papers you were served with. If your motion is filed in the wrong court, it won’t count, and a judgment can be taken against you.
- If the court’s phone number is on the papers you were served with, call to see if they charge for filing the Motion for Extension to Respond to the lawsuit. Most courts do not charge to file the Motion for Extension of Time. But a few do. You may need to have $40 to file, or to fill out an “in forma pauperis” application if you do not have the money. The application needs detailed financial information from you, and needs a neighbor or someone else who knows you cannot pay to swear to this in front of a notary.
- It is best to take an extra copy of the motion for extension when you file, that you can keep, after you have the clerk stamp it to show you when you filed.
- Free legal services may be available to help with your suit, depending on what it is about and your financial situation. Go to http://louisianalawhelp.org/find-legal-helpand on the left “Search by your parish.”
Instructions for filling in motion for extension of time to respond
Each numbered instruction below matches up to the shaded numbered blanks above. Follow the instructions exactly when filling out the form. Make sure that all the information in the motion is accurate; Mistakes made while filling out this form can cause the motion to have no effect. Fill in only the blanks that are numbered. Others are for the court to fill in.
- Copy the name of the person or business that is suing you directly from the papers you were served with. If there are more than one, only list the first one.
- Your Case Number (from the court papers you were served with)
- The section of the court that is hearing your case (copy it, if there is one on the court papers you were served with)
- The Name of the Court (copy it from the court papers you were served with)
- The Court’s Parish (copy from the court papers you were served with)
- The first name that appears after “Versus” or “v.” on the court papers
- Check off whether you have gotten notice of any trial or hearing.
- If you got notice that a hearing or trial has been set, list the date and the time that it is scheduled for. Circle either AM or PM.
- Sign your name on the top line, then print your name, address (not a post office box), and telephone number under your signature. You cannot sign for others unless you have a notarized power of attorney referring specifically to litigation.
- Your name again.
- Print the date that you are mailing a copy of the motion to whomever signed the petition against you.
- Sign your name here
THE FORM BELOW SHOULD BE PRINTED OUT ON LEGAL SIZE PAPER WITH A TWO-INCH MARGIN AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE
1._________________________________ SUIT NO.: 2.________ DIV.: 3.____
PARISH OF 5._______________________
6._________________________________ STATE OF LOUISIANA
FILED: DY. CLERK
FIRST MOTION FOR EXTENSION OF TIME TO RESPOND
On motion of the defendant signing below and on suggesting to this Honorable Court that defendant needs additional time to answer or otherwise respond to the petition and any discovery filed herein. Accordingly, defendant respectfully requests an extension of the time to file responsive pleadings and to respond to any discovery issued.
7. ☐ I have not gotten notice that any hearing or trial has been scheduled in the case.
☐ I have gotten notice of a hearing or trial set for 8.________ at ___:___AM / PM.
WHEREFORE, defendant signing below prays that the Court grants an additional 30 days in which to file responsive pleadings and to respond to any discovery issued.
IT IS ORDERED that the defendant, 10.____________________, be granted an additional 30 days, until the _________ day of _________, 20___ in which to file responsive pleadings and to respond to any discovery issued in the case.
SIGNED _______________, Louisiana, this _____day of _________, 20___.
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
I, the undersigned, do certify that a copy of the above and foregoing motion has been served upon all counsel or parties of record by mailing the same to each by First Class U.S. Mail, properly addressed and postage prepaid on the following date: 11. _________________.