Pro Se Answer

If you have been served with a civil Summons and Complaint or Petition, you must respond to the claim or a default judgment may be entered against you. You can file an answer to a divorce complaint yourself, or pro se, without the assistance of an attorney, but this method is not preferable.

FILING A PRO SE ANSWER

If you have been served with a civil Summons and Complaint or Petition, you must respond to the claim or a default judgment could be entered against you. It is preferable to consult an attorney when you have been served; however, if you are unable to obtain an attorney’s services, you have the option of filing a response or Answer for yourself, or pro se. The time for filing an Answer is always a specified time from the service of the original Summons and Complaint or Petition. Within the State of Arkansas, you normally have thirty (30) days to file an Answer or Response to avoid being in default. If you are served with an action that was filed in another State, the time period for filing an Answer may be different; however, the Summons should state the number of days available to you. Failing to file an Answer to the Complaint within the specified time period could result in a default judgment being entered against you, so it is important that you file an Answer in a timely manner.

Allegations that are not denied in response to the Complaint or Petition are deemed admitted, so it is important that all allegations contained in the Complaint or Petition are addressed in your Answer. Your answers to the allegations in the Complaint or Petition should be set forth in a clear and plain statement. You may respond with:

  • An admission or denial of the allegation
  • A combination of an admission in part and a denial in part
  • A claim that the defendant is without sufficient knowledge or information to for a belief as to the truth of the allegation, having the effect of a denial.

GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR PREPARING A PRO SE ANSWER

1)  Your answer should begin with the caption of the case. You should copy the caption from the Complaint or Petition exactly, being sure to notate the appropriate court, plaintiff and defendant names, and case number. For example:

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF ________ COUNTY, ARKANSAS
___________ DIVISION

JANE DOE                                                                                                                    PLAINTIFF

VS. NO: __________

JOHN DOE                                                                                                                   DEFENDANT

2)  You should then read each allegation or numbered paragraph carefully to determine whether you will need to admit or deny the allegations, or whether you have insufficient knowledge to admit or deny the allegations contained in that specific paragraph. Your response to the allegation should be simply stated. An example of an Answer is attached which will show you have to word your responses.

3)  It is always best to add an additional numbered paragraph that states a general denial of allegations that are not specifically admitted. Please refer to paragraph number 3 of the example Answer.

4)  Your Answer may also contain affirmative defenses. If you wish to allege any affirmative defenses, they should be stated next. Please refer to paragraph 4 of the attached sample Answer for proper wording.

5)  Your Answer should also reserve your rights to later object to jurisdiction, venue, sufficiency of process, sufficiency of process, sufficiency of service, failure to state facts upon which relief can be granted or failure to join a party after filing your Answer. Rule 12(b)(h).

6)  The closing paragraph of your Answer is a summary of the relief that you are requesting and generally begins with the word WHEREFORE. You may use the wording in the example Answer for your closing paragraph.

7)  Review your Answer, comparing each numbered response with the numbered paragraphs of the Complaint to ensure that you answered each allegation in the Complaint. If all allegations have been answered, you should sign your Answer and state your full mailing address and telephone number.

8)  You should prepare a Certificate of Mailing or Certificate of Service at the bottom of your Answer. This certificate is a statement that you have mailed a copy of your Answer to the Plaintiff’s attorney or to the Plaintiff if he/she is not represented by an attorney. You may use the wording of the Certificate of Service on the attached example. You should be sure to sign and date the Certificate of Service. 

FILING A PRO SE ANSWER

The Answer that you have prepared must be filed with the Clerk of the Court within the time period specified on the Summons. The Clerk’s address should also be located on the Summons. If you live in the town that the county courthouse is in, it is best that you take your Answer to the Court Clerk’s office to be filed personally.

  1. Take the original and two copies of your Answer to the Clerk of the Court in the county that the lawsuit was filed. Have the Clerk “file-mark” your Answer. The Clerk of the court will keep the original copy, which will be placed in the court file and will give the additional copies to you.
  2. Keep one of the “file-marked” copies for your records.
  3. Mail the other “file-marked” copy to the Plaintiff’s attorney or to the Plaintiff if he/she is not represented by an attorney.

If you do not live in the town that the county courthouse is in, you may mail your Answer to the Court Clerk; however, you should be sure to mail the Answer early enough that it will be received in the Clerk’s office and filed before your time limitation has expired.

  1. Write a letter to the Clerk of the Court at the address located on the Summons asking the Clerk to file your Answer and to return a file-marked copy of the Answer to you. Be sure to enclose the original Answer, at least one copy of the Answer, and a self-addressed stamped envelope.
  2. Send a copy of your letter to the Clerk of the Court along with a copy of your Answer to the Plaintiff’s attorney or to the Plaintiff if he/she is not represented by an attorney. A sample letter to the Clerk of the Court is attached and you may use this form. 

 

FORM EXAMPLE -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

 [Place caption of the case here]
ANSWER

Comes the Defendant, [insert named Defendant here], and for [his, her, its] answer to the Complaint filed herein against [him, her, it] states as follows:

  1. Defendant specifically denies the allegations contained in paragraph one of the Complaint filed herein against him/her.
  2. Defendant specifically admits the allegations contained in paragraph two of the Complaint filed here against him/her.
  3. Defendant specifically denies each and every allegation of the complaint not specifically admitted herein.
  4. Defendant specifically pleads the following affirmative defense[s]:
  5. Defendant reserves the right to plead further and reserves objections on the basis of lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter; lack of jurisdiction over the person; improper venue; insufficiency of process; insufficiency of service of process; failure to state facts upon which relief can be granted; and failure to join a party under Rule 19, if any.

[Rule 8 of the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure requires that any response to the complaint, counterclaim, cross-claim or third part claim must set forth any and all affirmative defenses or matters constituting an avoidance. The Rule specifically mentions the following as affirmative defenses: accord and satisfaction, arbitration and award, comparative fault, discharge in bankruptcy, duress, estoppels, exclusiveness of remedy under worker’s compensation, lack or failure of consideration, fraud, illegality, injury by fellow servant, laches, license, payment, release, res judicata, set-off, the statue of frauds, the statute of limitations, and waiver. Other obvious affirmative defenses would include such property rules as the Rule Against Perpetuities. Do not simply say “estoppels” or “laches”, etc., however. State the facts, which amount to laches or estoppels.]

WHEREFORE, Defendant prays that the Complaint filed herein against [him, her, it] be dismissed; for [his/her] costs herein expended; and for any and all other just and proper relief.

____________________________, Pro Se
[Print or type your name here and
Sign your name on the line above]
[Type or print your complete mailing
Address and your phone number]

 

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

I hereby certify that I have this ____ day of _______________, 20___, served [insert name and address of Plaintiff’s attorney or Plaintiff if not represent by an attorney] with the foregoing Answer by placing same in the U. S. Mail with sufficient postage attached.

_____________________________
[Sign your name on above line]

 

END FORM EXAMPLE ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

LETTER EXAMPLE--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[Date]

[Insert Clerk Name]
[Insert Clerk Address]

RE: [Insert Plaintiff name] vs. [Defendant]
[Insert court name and case number]

Dear [Insert Clerk’s name]:

Please file the enclosed Answer in the above matter and return a file-marked copy to me in the enclosed self-addressed, stamped envelope.

By copy of this letter, I am forwarding same to [Insert Plaintiff’s attorney’s name or Plaintiff’s name if not represented by and attorney].

Thank you for your assistance in this matter.

Sincerely,

[Sign your name here]

Enclosures: original Answer + 1 copy
Self-addressed, stamped envelope

cc: [Plaintiff’s attorney]w/enclosure

 

END OF LETTER EXAMPLE-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

 

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