What does the attorney do next when a spouse answers the divorce petition?

When you are served with a divorce petition, you need to respond within a short period of time. This is important to protect your rights, including property and child custody if applicable. A family law attorney can help you figure out how to respond. 

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First, you should review the initial court papers (called “summons,” “complaint” and “notice of automatic orders”) that your spouse is requesting in the divorce case. Then, you need to decide if you want to take part in the process and file an answer or counterclaim. 

Depending on your situation, you can either hire an attorney to represent you or represent yourself. It is always best to speak with a family law attorney before you begin the divorce process, as they will give you helpful advice and help you fill out the necessary forms. 

Then, you should serve the documents to your spouse (or their attorney) by hand or through the mail. You can find instructions for preparing and serving the forms at your local courthouse. 

You should also send a copy of your response to the other person’s attorney if you have one. This will protect your right to be notified of any hearings or proceedings in the case. 

If you don’t do this, the attorney who filed the complaint for divorce will be allowed to move ahead with the case. The court may grant the divorce based on what is asked in the petition, but you will lose the right to make arguments about how you would like your property and debts divided or your support ordered. 

In some cases, you can use a third party to serve the papers for you. This can include a friend or neighbor, but it must be someone who is not you and who is over the age of 18. 

When you are done with these steps, you need to send a copy of your response to your spouse’s attorney, if you have one. You can send this by regular mail or e-mail if your spouse is registered for e-service. 

This information is used by the judge to determine how much you will get in a divorce settlement. The information you submit on this form will help the judge understand your financial situation and what is in your best interest. 

When a spouse fails to respond to a divorce petition, it can be frustrating and confusing.