Need help fast -- responding to a foreclosure summons

Yes, you are not my attorney, I am not your client, and you have no legal liability for anything you suggest to me.

I am in WI, having been unemployed for 3-1/2 years (except for one terrible week), and fallen on hard times financially. My mortgage holder has file asking for a foreclosure, and I have a few days left to reply to the court.

I really can’t dispute any of the facts laid out in the complaint. The only (possibly) relevant thing is that I just started a new job with the state, and have the prospect of renewing my mortgage payments in relatively short order.

  1. Given that. is there any point to responding at all? This is a first notice, there is not a court date set yet, but if I don’t respond, there will likely be a summary judgement against me. However, I’ve been told that even if a judgement is entered, the enforcement is automatically stayed for several months to give the parties time to work things out. So given that I have nothing to dispute, one new fact that may not be relevant to the court, is there anything to be gained from responding?

  2. I presume the court doesn’t care why I couldn’t pay, and there is no reason to explain it in a response. Is this correct?

  3. Any other thoughts?

You could call the bank and provide evidence that you just started a job and ask for another month. Bank officials might be bloodsucking vampires but they’re human bloodsucking vampires.

You could try some sort of bridge loan from the Bank of Mom and Dad, SisBank, or the Poker Buddies Financial Corporation or something with the understanding they are just helping you with cash flow. Make sure you pay them back quickly to keep your relationship intact.

What about a credit card advance, payday loan, or something like that? If you pay it off next month it shouldn’t hurt that hard and I think payday loans are pretty easy to get if you can prove you have a job. Yeah the interest rate blows, but it might be better than foreclosure.

This is all irrelevant for the moment. The specific question is whether or not to reply to the court in response to the legal notice. I cannot in good faith dispute any of the claims made by the mortgage holder, I can only provide evidence of new/current employment, future income and an expectation of being able to make future mortgage payments on a schedule.

No, Robert_columbia’s comments are not irrelevant. If you can work out something with the mortgage holder, they have the ability to cancel the court order. Or, if you show up in court, you can give evidence that things are being worked out. Without seeing a good faith attempt on your part, the court will merely carry out the plaintiff’s wishes and if you have no defense, you’re screwed.

As always, consulting an attorney is a very good idea. I realize you aren’t flush with funds to hire one, but if an attorney sees light at the end of the tunnel for you and an easy task for him, he might be willing to postpone payment.

If you do not reply to the court order in some manner, you will very likely receive a default judgment against you.

Individuals proceeding pro se are held to lower levels of professionalism than attorneys, and can file any manner of pleading to keep the matter moving. But, IMO, the absolutely worst thing you can do is not respond.

I would imagine what you would want to do is prolong the court action, while you attempt to renegotiate your mortgage. Of course, that presumes you wish to stay in your home, and resume making payments. Not everyone in your situation does.

File a motion for more time to respond.

First talk to the bank, tell them about your job, see if they’re willing to hold off. Then you have to respond somehow. There are a lot of lawyers dealing with foreclosures now, they may just tell you what to do as the first step here without compensation*. If the bank goes ahead with the process you’ll need to a least consult a lawyer.

*Yes, I mean a lawyer giving out some legal information for free. And not necessarily out of altruism but to save time that could be spent bloodsucking someone with more money on hand.

No, it is not relevant because we do not have the ability to negotiate something and get a response from them back to the court in time to meet the summons deadline. In any case, the response, if there is one, has to come from me – not them.

So - the response to the summons is a request for more time - stipulating that you have just regained employment and are making a good faith attempt to resolve this matter with the bank.

Another response to it would be ot the court like you would any other debt response - that basically forces the bank to ‘prove’ there side of it - go thru the discovery process, make them pony up real signatures, prove they have teh ability to collect on this, etc.

DO NOT NOT ANSER THE SUMMONS - even if the bank and you come to agreement on the phone.

They have held off for months. The court papers are now filed. I need to respond directly to the court, regardless of what the lender and I have to say to each other.

What does this mean? You tell me to respond, but not answer the summons. They are the same thing.

Do not blow off the court date. Show up in person, preferably with a lawyer, and explain that your circumstances have changed for the better. The judge might still rule against you and the bank might not feel like working with you - but if you ignore them, you’re doomed for sure.

He said “NOT NOT”. He’s telling you “don’t fail to respond in some way”. Even if you and the bank come to an agreement you must answer the court summons, as you said you were going to do.

There is no court date yet. I am supposed to reply to the complaint in writing, and if I don’t I face a summary judgement later, when there is a court date.

But, as I noted before, if there is a judgement against me, the execution is still deferred several months, theoretically to allow time for a negotiated settlement rather than a forcible eviction.

So the question is, if I can’t dispute anything in the complaint, is there any point in responding at all.

Answer the Summons and then talk to the bank.

If you don’t answer – at least by filing a Notice of Appearance Pro Se (or whatever it’s called) – and if your plans don’t work out, you’re screwed.

A possible scenario: You call the bank and explain your improved circumstances. The loan officer says “Great!” and contacts the attorney. The attorney says “Great!” and proceeds with the lawsuit. They’ve already taken the time and trouble to file the lawsuit. How likely is it that they’ll dismiss it based on a phone call from you?

If you’ve answered the summons, they can’t get a default judgment without more filing and court appearances. That gives you and the bank time to work things out.

ETA: The point in responding is to protect yourself. If you have a say in the proceedings, maybe you can avoid lots of interest and attorney fees.


I would start here:

The UW Law School has (had?) a twice-monthly foreclosure clinic, organized in cooperation with theh Dane County Foreclosure Prevention Task Force (the group behind the link above). So, I’d start with calling some resources identified in that website, and maybe also call the UW Law School Clinics Office to see if the foreclosure clinic is still in operation. In each instance, let them know that the filing deadline is however many days away it is.

Per the UW Consumer Law Clinic webpage (

way beyond my expertise, and not to be confused with legal advice, but you might wish to consider a response along the lines of a “general denial.” An option in many jurisdictions, especially by unrepped claimants. Essentially says you desire a different outcome than the othe party, wish the legal process to continue, and wish to play a part in that process.

Think of the summons as a tennis serve. You have to at least try to return it to have any chance at winning the point.

Yes you do need to respond, but if the bank is going to change their minds, the sooner you contact them the better. I can understand if you don’t want to deal with them though, but you’ll be doing that eventually through the courts if you don’t contact them directly.

Anyway, best of luck, I hope this all works out somehow.

More to the point, it is almost certainly in the bank’s interest to work with you. In the current market, the bank really doesn’t want to get stuck with another white elephant – they almost certainly have a large stable of them already.