What Should a Person Do When They Served with Divorce Papers? Do They Have to Respond?
When a stranger or sheriff shows up to your home or place of business with a packet of documents, you may be flooded with a myriad of different emotions including, fear, anger, and confusion. However, when first served with divorce papers it is important not to panic and begin to weigh your options. Contact an Orlando Divorce Attorney who will be able to discuss with you the elements of the petition, and explain the next steps available to you.
One option you have after being served is to do nothing. Although this option is highly discouraged, some do employ it in their case. However, if you neglect to respond to a petition within 20 days, your spouse may seek to file a Motion for Default against you. If no response has been provided by you as to your lack or delay of answer to the petition, the court will enter a default against you. This default allows the court to proceed with your divorce without your presence or input. During a default hearing the court may grant the requests of the present spouse removing your rights to property or even timesharing.
If you choose to respond to the petition, you must file an answer within 20 days. An answer is a general document that lets the court know which elements of the initial petition you agree or disagree with. This begins the process of narrowing down the issues that will be under dispute during the divorce proceedings. Seeking guidance from your Orlando Divorce Attorney when creating your answer is important, as your spouse may have mentioned complicated legal issues that need experienced knowledge to unravel. Further, answers will be held against you in future proceedings, therefore it is important to take proper time and precautions when addressing each issue and your appropriate response.
Along with an answer you may desire to file a counter complaint. This will describe your exact needs and elements of focus for the divorce proceedings. In your counterclaim, you may also request for temporary relief during the pendency of the proceedings, regarding monetary support, child custody or property division. Similarly, your spouse will need to file an answer to your counterclaim within 20 days. Contact your Orlando Divorce Attorney to discuss the need of a counterclaim and further be sure that it covers all issues relevant to your divorce.
After the service of your initial dissolution of marriage petition there are many more documents necessary to file. The answer is the one with the closest timeframe of 20 days and is crucial to asserting your rights in the divorce. However, after the initial petition you have 45 days to file a financial affidavit with the court. This document compiles all the assets and liabilities of the parties and designates each as marital or non marital property. Further, you must comply with Mandatory Disclosure requirements within 45 days of service of the petition. If your divorce includes minor children, you will also need to file a Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act Affidavit, Child Support Guidelines Worksheet and a Parenting Plan. These documents can be lengthy and complicated, and you will need the assistance of your Orlando Divorce Attorney during this process.
If you have been served with divorce papers and are unsure of your options, contact an Orlando Divorce Attorney today to ensure you know your timeframe and rights proceeding forward into this new and unknown territory.
Speaking to an attorney at Orlando our office is free of charge, and we accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at 407-512-0887 or complete an online contact form to get in touch with a member of our team today.