What To Do After Getting Served With a Divorce Complaint
Divorce is a difficult and emotional decision. Sometimes the decision to divorce is mutual between both spouses. At other times, one spouse decides unilaterally that he or she wants to dissolve the marriage. If this is the case, getting served with a divorce complaint may come as a complete surprise. However, you do not necessarily get much time to process it. You are expected to return an answer, sometimes in less than a month. If you are served with a divorce complaint, here are some things to do next.
Accept That Divorce Is Probably Inevitable
In a no-fault divorce, the only grounds your spouse has to cite are irreconcilable differences; i.e., the two of you can no longer get along. If you contest the divorce, it only proves your spouse’s point. However, even in a divorce in which fault is alleged, you usually cannot stop the divorce by proving the grounds false. It is not in the government’s interest to force people to remain in unhappy marriages.
Read the Papers
It is always a good idea to read any legal document carefully, and a divorce complaint is no exception. There are several specific reasons for this. First, and perhaps the most important, the divorce complaint should tell you how long you have to answer. You are not required to answer a divorce complaint, but if you fail to do so, whether by choice or neglect, you forfeit your right to tell your side of the story and ask for the provisions you want. The court will accept your spouse’s complaint by default. There may be ways around a missed filing deadline, but it is easier to avoid the extra trouble by filing your response in the timeline requested.
Prepare and File a Response
Another reason to read the divorce papers is so that you know exactly what your spouse is alleging and what he or she is asking for. This allows you to make your petition to the court for what you want from the proceedings. It also allows you to dispute the grounds alleged against you and assert your grounds against your spouse if needed and desired. As previously stated, disputing the grounds for your divorce is unlikely to stop it, but you may be able to better your legal position by replying. A local family lawyer can help you prepare a strong response. Once you have prepared your response, you must submit it through official channels. You should serve your papers through a process server or talk to the clerk about using the sheriff’s office. Otherwise, it doesn’t count as a legal service.
Responding to a divorce complaint correctly is important to protect your interests, both now and in the future. One of your local divorce lawyers can help you with the process.