I just got served with divorce papers. Now what?

You’ve just been served with divorce papers. What do you do?

First, don’t panic. It happens . . . a lot. After you’ve a chance to gather yourself, you need to understand the important dates and documents associated with the service of divorce papers.

You were served with a Petition for Dissolution and other documents. The Petition is the document putting you on notice that divorce proceedings have begun and of the issues associated with your divorce. The Petition usually does not have a lot of information in it other than general claims and allegations; again, it’s only meant to put you on notice. Service of the Petition starts the clock for your Response.

Within 20 days of being served with the Petition, you need to file your Response to the Petition for Dissolution (you have 30 days if you were served out-of-state). A Response responds to the claims and allegations in the Petition using an “admit” or “deny” format. If an allegations in the Petition is true, you will “admit” to those allegations, and you will “deny” the allegations if you believe they are incorrect. If you don’t have enough information to respond, just say that. After you finish drafting the Response, you need to go to the courthouse and file it. Then you need to send a copy to Petitioner (the party that filed the Petition).

If you don’t file the Response in time, the Petitioner can file for default. You then have 10 an additional days to file your response or the Petitioner’s default request may be granted. If the court grants the Petitioner’s default request, the court will deem all of the allegations and requests in the Petitioner’s Petition as true.

As you can see, it is important that you focus on the important dates and documents associated with the service of a Petition for Dissolution. If you have any issues or concerns with your Response or a possible default, you should contact me for a free 30 minute consultation.


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