The defendant's response to the plaintiff's petition is called the "defendant's original answer." The defendant's answer must be filed by a certain date. The summons or citation gives the deadline for answering. For example, the deadline to answer may be "the first Monday after the expiration of 10 days after the date the citation is served."

Initially, the answer is a simple denial of all the plaintiff's allegations. Later, it is common for defendant's to amend their answer to include specific defenses.

TIP: Failure to answer in time means a default judgment can be taken against you.

Sidebar: The "default judgment" grants the relief requested by the plaintiff in her petition. There is no limit to the amount of money that can be granted in a default judgment.

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