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Civil - Law Answer
Updated September 2018
How to File an Answer to a Complaint in the Superior Court of New
Jersey - Law Division - Civil Part
Who Should Use This Packet?
You may use this package if you have received a summons, complaint, civil case information statement (CIS),
and track assignment notice (TAN) notifying you that you are being sued in the Law Division of the Superior
Court of New Jersey. In order to avoid
having the other party win the case against you automatically, you must
file an answer to the complaint along with a CIS
and the appropriate fee within 35 days from the date that you
receive the summons.
Your answer should contain any defenses you have to the claims made in the complaint
and any dispute you have with the facts as stated in the complaint. If you do not file your answer and CIS
within the 35 days, a default judgment can be entered against you and the County Sheriff may seize your
money, wag
es, or property to pay all or part of the judgment.
: If you believe you have a claim against the plaintiff and wish to countersue, you must file a counterclaim
with your answer and CIS. If you believe you have a claim against another
defendant, you must file a cross-
claim with your answer and CIS. For information on the procedure for filing a cross
-claim or counterclaim,
consult staff in the civil division clerk’s office
Note: These materials have been prepared by the New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts for use by self-
represented litigants. The guides, instructions, and forms will be periodically updated as necessary to reflect current
New Jersey statutes and court rules. The most recent version of the forms will be available at the county courthouse or
on the Judiciary’s Internet site However, you are ultimately responsible for the content of your court
Completed forms are to be submitted to the county where you are filing your case. A list of Superior
Court Offices is provided at the customer counter or at
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Things to Think About Before You Represent Yourself in Court
Try to Get a Lawyer
The court system can be confusing, and it is a good
idea to get a lawyer if you can. The law, the proofs
necessary to present your case, and the procedural
rules governing cases in the Law Division, Civil
Part are complex. Since valuable claims or
potentially heavy judgments may be at stake, most
litigants appearing in the Law Division, Civil Part
have a lawyer. If you are being sued, please contact
your insurance company to see if they might
provide a lawyer for you. Most likely your
opponent will be represented by a lawyer. It is
recommended that you make every effort to obtain
the assistance of a lawyer. If you cannot afford a
lawyer, you may contact the legal services program
in your county to see if you qualify for free legal
services. Their telephone number can be found
online under “Legal Aid” or “Legal Services.”
If you do not qualify for free legal services and need
help in locating an attorney, you can contact the bar
association in your county. Most county bar
associations have a Lawyer Referral Service. The
County Bar Lawyer Referral Service can supply
you with the names of attorneys in your area willing
to handle your particular type of case and will
sometimes consult with you at a reduced fee.
There are also organizations of minority lawyers
throughout New Jersey, as well as organizations of
lawyers who handle specialized types of cases. Ask
your county court staff for a list of lawyer referral
services that include these organizations.
If you decide to proceed without an attorney, these
materials explain the procedures that must be
followed to have your papers properly filed and
considered by the court. These materials do not
provide information on the law governing your
claims or defenses; information on how to conduct
pretrial discovery; information on alternative
dispute resolution procedures, such as arbitration or
mediation, that may be available or required in your
case; information on the kinds of evidence you need
to prove your claims or defense at trial; or
information on other procedural and evidentiary
rules governing civil law suits.
What You Should Expect If You Represent
While you have the right to represent yourself in
court, you should not expect special treatment, help,
or attention from the court. The following is a list
of some things the court staff can and cannot do for
you. Please read it carefully before asking the court
staff for help.
We can explain and answer questions about
how the court works.
We can tell you what the requirements are to
have your case considered by the court.
We can give you some information from your
case file.
We can provide you with samples of court
forms that are available.
We can provide you with guidance on how to
fill out forms.
We can usually answer questions about court
We cannot give you legal advice. Only your
lawyer can give you legal advice.
We cannot tell you whether or not you should
bring your case to court.
We cannot give you an opinion about what will
happen if you bring your case to court.
We cannot recommend a lawyer, but we can
provide you with the telephone number of a
local lawyer referral service.
We cannot talk to the judge for you about what
will happen in your case.
We cannot let you talk to the judge outside of
We cannot change an order issued by a judge.
Keep Copies of All Papers
Make and keep copies of all completed forms and
documents related to your case.
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A civil suit begins with the filing of a complaint and civil case information statement (CIS) with the appropriate
filing fee. Within 10 days of the filing of the complaint, the plaintiff will receive a Track Assignment Notice.
A case is assigned to one of four tracks depending on the type of case and the length of time it should take to
complete discovery. The complaint, CIS and TAN must be served with the summons on all parties.
Defendant(s) must file an answer to the complaint along with the appropriate filing fee within 35 days after
service of the complaint. After the complaint is served and an answer is filed, the discovery period begins. The
time for discovery depends on what track the case is assigned to. During the discovery period, the parties
exchange information about the case. At any time during the case, a party may make a motion to the court for
certain relief. Prior to a trial, cases may be sent to mediation (a meeting in which a neutral third party facilitates
discussion between the parties to reach a resolution of their differences) and/or arbitration (a hearing in which
parties present their positions to a neutral third party who makes a recommendation for resolving the case which
may be accepted or rejected by the parties). If mediation and/or arbitration is unsuccessful, a case will be
scheduled for trial. The trial may take place before the judge alone or before a judge and a jury. At the trial,
both sides present evidence supporting their positions. The decision of the judge and/or jury is contained in the
final judgment. If a party wishes to appeal the final decision, a notice of appeal must be filed in the Appellate
Division within 45 days after the entry of the final judgment.
Definitions of Words Used in This Packet
Affirmative Defense - An affirmative defense is what a defendant offers as a reason why there should be no judgment
against him/her. Examples of affirmative defenses include fraud, contributory negligence, expiration of the statute of
Answer - An answer is the document filed by the defendant which contains the response to each of the statements
made by the plaintiff and the reasons or circumstances why the defendant is or is not responsible for any harm claimed
by the plaintiff.
Caption - A caption is the name of the case; it lists the name of the plaintiff(s) and the defendant(s). For example,
John Jones, Plaintiff v. Mary Smith, Defendant.
Cause of Action - A cause of action refers to the facts that give rise to the lawsuit or claim.
Certification - A certification is statement that certain facts are true to the best of the knowledge of the person making
the statement. It is like an affidavit, but is not sworn before a notary or other authorized person.
Certification of No Other Actions - A certification of no other actions is a sworn written statement at the end of the
answer in which you state that, to the best of your knowledge, the action about which you are complaining is not the
subject of any other court matter or arbitration, that there are no other parties that need to be added to this action and
that you recognize the obligation to notify all parties and the court if there are any changes.
Civil Case Information Statement (CIS) The CIS is a form that summarizes your case for the court. Court rules
require that each party file a CIS. The pro se version of the CIS which is to be used with this packet can be found on
our Self-Help Center.
Co-defendant - A co-defendant is another defendant who has been sued by the plaintiff in the complaint.
Complaint - A complaint is a document in which the plaintiff tells the court the facts of a case and states what relief is
Counterclaim - A counterclaim is a complaint the defendant has against the plaintiff.
Cross-claim - A cross-claim is a complaint that one defendant has against a co-defendant.
Defendant - The defendant is the person being sued.
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Definitions of Words Used in This Packet (continued)
Discovery - Discovery is the pretrial process by which one party learns of the evidence that will be presented and relied
upon in the trial by the opposing party.
Docket Number - A docket number is the number the court assigns to your case so that it may be identified and located
easily. Once you have a docket number, you must include it on all your communications with the court.
File - To file means to give the appropriate forms and fee to the court to begin the court’s handling of your case.
Jury - A jury in a civil matter is usually a group of six people selected according to law and sworn to inquire into and
decide the facts at issue in a trial.
Motion - A motion is an application to the court for a specific order or ruling to be made in favor of the party making
the motion.
Party - A party is any plaintiff or defendant in a case. You must send a copy of everything you send to the court to
every party.
Plaintiff - The plaintiff is the person who files the first complaint in a lawsuit.
Proof of Mailing - Proof of mailing is the form in which you provide the dates and method you used to give the other
parties copies of the papers that you filed in court.
Pro Se - Pro se is a Latin term that means “on one’s own behalf.” A plaintiff or defendant in a lawsuit who does not
have an attorney is said to be appearing pro se.
Service - Service refers to the delivery of the complaint or any other paper in a suit to the defendant and other parties.
Formal legal service requires that the service be made by an officially authorized person or by mail.
Team - A team is made up of courthouse staff, who are responsible for the processing of your case. Each team is
headed by a team leader who reports to the Civil Division Manager.
Track - Lawsuits in the Civil Division are assigned to one of four tracks. Which track a case is assigned to, usually
depends on the type of case, and how much time it should take to complete discovery. On the back of the CIS is a
listing of the tracks and the various case types that are included in each one.
Track Assignment Notice (TAN) - The Track Assignment Notice (TAN) is a document prepared by the court that tells
you what judge and team will be handling your case. It also gives the telephone number you should call whenever you
need to reach the court about your case. The plaintiff is required to send a copy of the TAN to everyone being sued.
Venue - Venue refers to the county where the court that has jurisdiction to hear your case is located.
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The numbered steps listed below tell you what forms you will need to fill out and what to do with them. Each form should be typed or
printed clearly on 8 ½ “x 11” white paper only. Forms may not be filed on a different size or color paper.
Steps for Filing an Answer
STEP 1: Fill in the Answer (Form A).
The Answer tells the court in short and simple terms
whether you admit or deny the statements made by
the plaintiff in the complaint and sets forth every
defense you may have to the plaintiff’s claims.
You must respond to each numbered paragraph in
the complaint and either admit the allegation, deny
the allegation, or state that you do not have enough
information to know whether the statement is true.
In the area for Affirmative Defenses, you can list
the facts which defend your action or inaction. You
may state as many separate defenses as you have
and provide any reasons you have why the plaintiff
should not get the relief requested. For example:
The plaintiff was negligent (explain how).
You, the defendant, fulfilled your obligation
Sign and date the remaining statements on the
continuation of Form A. Do not sign the
demand for a trial by jury unless you want to
have a jury hear your case.
STEP 2: Complete the Civil Case Information
Statement (CIS).
The Civil CIS form with instructions can be found
on our Self-Help Center. The completed CIS must
be filed with the answer. Failure to file this
required document may result in your answer being
returned to you.
STEP 3: Make a check or money order payable
to Treasurer, State of New Jersey.
The fee for filing an answer is $175. Make a check
payable to Treasurer, State of New Jersey.
STEP 4: Check your completed forms and
make copies.
Check your forms to make sure that they are
complete and that you have signed them in the
appropriate places. Make at least six copies of the
completed forms.
If the Answer (Form A) or any of the copies of
papers that you attach to the Answer contain a
Social Security number, driver’s license number,
vehicle plate number, insurance policy number,
active financial account number, active credit card
number, or military status, you must redact (black
out) this information so that it cannot be seen,
unless any such personal identifier is required to be
included by statute, rule, administrative directive or
court order. If an active financial account is the
subject of your case and cannot otherwise be
identified, you may use the last four digits of the
account to identify it.
NOTE: Do not redact (black out) this
information in the original papers that you are
keeping (such as a police accident report) since
you may have to show them to the court at some
CHECKLIST - In Steps 5 and 6 you will be
directed to mail your documents to the court and
other parties. The following checklist will help
insure that your package is complete:
The original and two copies of the Answer
and CIS
The filing fee in the amount of $175. It
must be a money order or check made out
to Treasurer, State of New Jersey
A stamped, self-addressed envelope
One copy of the CIS and Answer to serve
on each party; or, if the party has an
attorney, on the attorney for that party.
STEP 5: Mail or deliver the forms to the court.
You may deliver your papers to the court in person
or you may mail them. The court address can be
found on the Judiciary’s website, If
you mail the papers, we recommend that you use
certified mail, return receipt requested.
Mail or deliver to the court the original and 2 copies
of the Answer and CIS.
STEP 6: Mail CIS and Answer to all parties.
Within 35 days of the date that you received the
summons and complaint, you must send a copy of
your answer and CIS to each party or, if the party
has an attorney, to the attorney for that party. You
should use certified mail, return receipt requested
and keep the green card when it is returned to you
as proof of service.
Form A
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Superior Court of New Jersey
Law Division
Docket Number:
Civil Action
The defendant,
, answers the plaintiff’s claim as follows:
(State whether you agree or disagree with each paragraph of the plaintiff’s complaint. If additional room is
needed, attach a separate sheet.)
Form A
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WHEREFORE, the defendant demands judgment dismissing the complaint with costs.
Affirmative Defense(s)
(State the reasons why you disagree with plaintiff’s complaint or why what you did or did not do is not a matter
for court. If additional room is needed, attache
d a separate sheet.)
Certification of No Other Actions
I certify that this dispute is not the subject of any other action pending in any other court or a pending
arbitration proceeding to the best of my knowledge and belief. Also, to the best of my knowledge and belief, no
other action or arbitration proceeding is contemplated. Further, other than the parties set forth in this complaint,
I know of no other parties that should be made a part of this laws
uit. In addition, I recognize my continuing
obligation to file and serve on all parties and the court an amended certification if there is a change in the facts
stated in this original certification.
Certification Regarding Filing and Service
The undersigned hereby certifies that a copy of this pleading was served and filed within the time permitted by
the court rules.
OPTIONAL: If you would like to have a judge decide your case, do not include the following paragraph
in your complaint. If you would prefer to have a jury to decide your case, please sign your name
after the
following paragraph.
Demand for Trial by Jury
TAKE NOTICE that the defendant demands a trial by jury on all issues.