If your civil case is pending in Texas county or district courts, then you must file your answer on or before 10 a.m. the Monday next following the expiration of 20 days.
Wait. What? Ten o’clock in the morning on the Monday next after 20 days? Let’s break this down.
The Texas Rules of Civil Procedure state that your answer is due on or before 10 a.m. the Monday next following the expiration of 20 days. Be aware that this applies to cases in county and district courts only. JP courts and criminal courts have different deadlines.
You can find a list of answer deadlines on our Texas Answer Deadline Calculator here–but always double check with your calendar.
To do the calculation, you need to identify the date the lawsuit was actually served on the defendant. Then, starting with the next day, count out 20 days. When you get to Day 20, keep going forward until you get to the first Monday. Your answer is due on that Monday by 10:00 AM.
And if Day 20 actually lands on a Monday itself, then you move the deadline forward to the very next Monday–essentially one week later.
Take a look at the following examples:
Texas Answer Deadline Example 1
Texas Answer Deadline Example 2
Count all the calendar days, including weekends and holidays, when calculating your answer deadline.
In certain cases the answer deadline is shorter than 20 days. For example, in Justice of the Peace (JP) courts, your answer is due or before 10:00 a.m. the Monday next following the expiration of 10 days. You calculate this answer deadline by using the same method described above, but you stop counting on the 10th day and look ahead to the following Monday.
If you fail to file your Answer by the deadline, the plaintiff might just try to get a default judgment against you.
What if the Monday following the expiration of 20 days is a holiday? Check out my blog post here.