If you are named as a defendant in a Florida civil case, you will eventually be served with a complaint for that case. When you are served with the complaint, it is important that you answer the complaint within the time period allowed by the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. If you do not filed an answer or other qualifying motion with the court within that time frame, a default will likely be entered against you. You do not want to be have a default entered because it will prevent you from participating in the case, unless you get the default set aside by the court. Therefore, it is important to understand the time limits for filing an answer in a general civil case.


Typically, the time to answer a complaint in Florida is 20 days. 

Under Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.140(a), a defendant must serve an answer within 20 days “after service of original process and the initial pleading on the defendant.” Therefore, a defendant has 20 days to file an answer with the clerk of court where the action is pending after the defendant is personally served with the complaint and associated documents. It is important to remember that the time period starts running once the defendant is handed the complaint by the process server. It does not start from the time that the plaintiff files the complaint starting the case.

This time period means that you only have 20 days from the time of service to find an attorney or report the lawsuit to your insurance carrier. Therefore, as soon as you are served, or if you discover that someone is trying to serve you, find an attorney! The sooner that you are able to find an attorney, the sooner you’ll be able to outline your defenses and litigation strategy. Plus, knowing that you have an attorney to defend you in the case may relieve some of the stress from being sued.

In some actions for the return of property, such as eviction actions, the time to answer a complaint a 5 days under summary procedure. In these cases, it is extremely important that you talk to an attorney right away, because the failure to answer in time could result in an eviction. 


The time to answer a complaint in Florida is usually indicated on the summons that is served with it. 

The number of days that a defendant has to respond to the complaint is indicated on the summons that is included with it. Form 1.902 in the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure includes a summons that indicates that the defendant has 20 days to answer the complaint. Therefore, the time allowed for an answer to the complaint is clear when it is served.


Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

If you have been served with a complaint or think that you will be served with a complaint, contact us today to schedule a free consultation so that we can review your case. During the consultation, one or our attorneys will review the complaint or the facts of your case and may be able to provide you with an idea of what will be involved with defending it.

Request your free consultation today!