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The Difference Between a Complaint, Summons, and Lis Pendens in a Foreclosure Lawsuit

Complaint, Summons, and Lis Pendens

In a foreclosure lawsuit, there are a series of documents the lender or bank must prepare in order to pursue a mortgage foreclosure. The mountain of paperwork signed at a property’s closing forms the basis for a potential lawsuit, most significantly of which are the promissory  note and mortgage. If you receive a Notice of Default from your bank for your Florida home, get in touch with us at Jacobs Legal right away.

Once a lender begins a foreclosure lawsuit, they must prepare three important documents: a complaint, a summons, and a notice of lis pendens. Let’s walk through the difference between them.

Complaint for Foreclosure

The complaint, also called a petition, spells out the claims of the foreclosure lawsuit. In short, it declares that you are in default on your loan and demands a foreclosure judgment unless the note is repaid in full.

More specifically, the complaint will describe the terms of the mortgage, the promissory note, the property that is to be foreclosed, the default, amount due, and names of the defendants. It will also ask for the right to sell the property in order to help pay for the mortgage debt.


A summons is a document issues for each defendant named in the foreclosure suit. Typically that includes the homeowners (or loan borrowers) lienholders, judgment holders, and occupants, if applicable. The summons informs defendants of the lawsuit filed against them and gives them 20 days to file a response with the court.


Notice of lis pendens

This notice declares that a suit is pending (“lis pendens” is Latin for “suit pending”) and puts on public record that a foreclosure has been filed against your property. The Clerk of Court will record the lis pendens in the public records so it will appear in any title report that is pulled.

If you find yourself facing foreclosure on your Florida home, know that you have options, and we are here to help. Our team of experienced trial lawyers at Jacobs Legal will get to work putting up powerful defenses to push back on your bank. Don’t just roll over and let the bank take your home. Get in touch with us at Jacobs Legal right away.

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