What Should I Do If I Get Served With Divorce Papers?
Official divorce proceedings start when someone actually files a petition for divorce and serves that petition on his or her spouse. The respondent, or recipient of the divorce papers, must take certain steps at this point in the proceedings, or risk a default ruling, so if you received notice that your spouse filed for divorce, it is important to speak with an experienced Fort Lauderdale divorce lawyer as soon as possible.
Responding to a Divorce Filing
Merely ignoring a divorce filing will not make it go away. In fact, doing nothing will almost certainly result in a default judgement being ordered, which means that the non-responding party will have no say in how marital assets are divided or whether alimony is appropriate. Basically, the divorce would be conducted without both parties’ input, meaning that a judge will only hear one side of the story. To avoid this, respondents should be sure to either submit an Answer or a Counterclaim as soon as possible.
Filing an Answer or Counterclaim in Response
When responding to a divorce filing, a person has two options. He or she can either file an answer to the petition, or a Counterclaim. With the former, a respondent is given the opportunity to respond directly to arguments or claims being made by the other spouse and to state claims of his or her own. In a Counterclaim, on the other hand, a respondent is essentially making his or her own independent request for a divorce. Regardless of the type of response being submitted, respondents must do so within a certain time frame, usually 20 days from the receipt of the divorce papers.
Reaching a Divorce Settlement
It’s important for couples to note that just because a spouse has filed for divorce does not mean that an out-of-court settlement agreement is off the table. By responding to divorce papers, a person is merely preserving his or her rights regarding child custody, property division, and alimony-related issues. Neither party will be barred from seeking to reach an agreement on these issues through mediation or informal negotiation. In fact, courts generally encourage divorcing couples to attempt some form of settlement proceedings before litigating a divorce, as the latter tends to involve more conflict and be more time-consuming and expensive.
Did Your Spouse File for Divorce?
Going through a divorce often leaves people feeling isolated. The reality, however, is that you do not need to go through the process of ending your marriage on your own. To learn more about responding to a divorce filing or to discuss your next steps, please contact dedicated Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. You can set up a free consultation to discuss any divorce-related questions or concerns by calling our office at 954-945-7591, or by completing and submitting one of our online contact forms. Initial consultations are offered free of charge, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us by phone or online message today.