It never feels good to receive notice that your spouse has filed for divorce – even if you were expecting it to happen. While it is easy to put off dealing with the divorce (especially if you do not want to end your marriage), it is critical that you address the situation as soon as possible by contacting an experienced divorce attorney. One important reason to avoid delays is that you only have a limited amount of time to respond to the divorce petition. If you fail to respond at all or if you file an inadequate response, you may lose important legal rights in your divorce proceedings.
If you do not respond at all to the divorce petition in the allotted timeframe, the court can issue a default judgment. The court assumes that you do not contest any requests by your spouse and will generally grant them what they asked for in their petition. You essentially give up your right to contest any assertions or requests in the divorce petition.
Responding to a divorce petition is often more complicated than it may seem at first. These petitions make many assertions and requests involving your marital finances, property values and descriptions, debts, child custody and parenting matters, spousal support, child support, and more. Your response is your opportunity to tell the courts whether you agree with all of the assertions or requests or if you want to contest one or more. You want your answer to be accurate and complete because if you fail to address something, you may not be able to at a later date.
Some people worry that filing an answer will start a battle. However, you will have many opportunities to settle the matters in your divorce and filing a well-crafted answer will preserve your rights.