What are the options to respond when served with divorce papers?

On Behalf of | Aug 17, 2021 | Divorce |

Some Californians who are served with divorce papers are surprised that their spouse wants to end the marriage. They might have been aware that there were problems, but did not think it would reach the point where the marriage was near its end. Or they might have been under the impression that steps were being taken to try and fix whatever issues were causing challenges. After receiving the summons and petition, the person has options to respond. This will hinge on the situation and it is important to know what can be done.

There are four basic alternatives after being served

In general, the respondent can do one of four things. First, he or she can do nothing and allow the other spouse to receive whatever is being asked for in the petition. This will impact child custody, support, visitation, property division and more. It is called a “true default” because the served spouse is simply allowing the process to move forward without interference. The person is essentially deciding not to take part in the case. Second, the respondent can do nothing but it is not due to default, but because there is an agreement in place to end the marriage and settle the lingering issues. Legally, it is a default, but the spouse who has been served is taking part in the settlement.

Next, a response can be filed, but there is also the option to reach a negotiated agreement with the other spouse and avoid needing to go to court. It will be categorized as uncontested since there is no dispute. Finally, there can be a response disputing what the other party is asking for. This is a contested case. There is no agreement and for the support, custody and property division, the court will need to decide. There are 30 days from when the papers are served to issue a response.

Having advice can avoid regrets when served with divorce papers

When served divorce papers, it is imperative to understand what to do next. This is of specific importance if the request for a divorce was unexpected. In such circumstances, many people are dealing with the emotional impact and do not think about their options as clearly as they should. Failure to respond at all will allow the other person to receive whatever he or she is asking for. That is often a mistake. From the start, it is useful to have advice with how to proceed even if the person accepts that the marriage is over. Being protected is always a wise step.