When one spouse files for divorce (the Petitioner), the other spouse (the Respondent) should always file an “Answer” before the deadline. The Respondent’s deadline to file an answer is the Monday following 20 days after date the Respondent is served. However, in a divorce, an Answer is still considered valid as long as it is filed before the divorce is final. Once the Respondent files an Answer, he or she is entitled to receive notice of all court hearings and to be present in court for any proceedings in the case.
If the Respondent does not file an Answer, it is possible for the Petitioner to move forward with the divorce without notice to the Respondent until after the case is final.
In addition to an Answer, the Respondent may also file a Counterpetition. This document is similar to the Original Petition for Divorce, but states the Respondent’s grounds for filing a divorce and what the Respondent is requesting from the court. A citation does not have to be served on a Counterpetition. However, the Counterpetition must be sent to the opposing party and a verification that the Counterpetition was sent, known as a “Certificate of Service,” must be included and signed with the Counterpetition.
If you have been served with divorce papers, it is important to contact an attorney quickly. Attorney Vince Handler can help you respond properly to preserve your rights and give you the best opportunity for an outcome that is fair to you. Contact us today.