How to Respond to Divorce Papers
When one party seeks a divorce from the other, the process starts with the defendant being served legal documents providing notification of the divorce request. If you are receiving these documents, you are considered the defendant in the case. It means that your spouse has taken the step to request a dissolution of the marriage. This document can be a shock to some people in some situations. When it happens, you may be unsure what steps to take.
In every divorce, it is best for each party to have his or her own attorney. We encourage you to make us your first call after receiving divorce papers. At Infinity Law Group, we can help you through this legal process and provide you with insight into each of your options.
You Need to Respond, But You Do Have Time
Being served divorce papers is the same as being served papers through a lawsuit. In fact, this is a lawsuit in legal terms. As a result, the documents will tell you most of what you need to know. This includes what the legal action is. It includes what your rights are in terms of filing a counterclaim. It will also provide you with a short time in which you can argue the terms of the agreement. Read this information. Most often, you have 20-days to respond. If you fail to respond, you may lose your right to contest the details of the document, such as decisions about child custody, alimony, and property division.
Create a Written Answer to the Divorce Petition
The next step is to respond to the Complaint. Again, we highly recommend not doing this on your own. It is best to have your divorce attorney in Massachusetts help you with this process. Having an attorney help you prepare this document ensures it is accurate, detailed, and designed in the proper manner. You do not want to miss deadlines or filing requirements that could otherwise hurt your ability to obtain the protections you desire.
This document is a formal response to anything and everything included in the divorce complaint. You will need to state what specific items you disagree or agree about and then provide a reason for doing so.
If there are allegations to infidelity, abandonment, or abuse, for example, simply write that you deny the allegations. You do not want to provide so many details you mistakenly admit to something.
Learn What Your Options Are
While divorce papers like this provide clear information about the expectations of the other party, this does not mean these events will take place. They are the desired outcomes from your spouse. You have the right to file desires as well. Responding to divorce papers gives you the ability to inform the judge of what you feel is important. But, again, it does not stop here.
Generally, there will be discussion involved in the divorce case. There will be court appearances. Whenever possible, we recommend working out the terms of your divorce with your spouse and each other’s attorneys in advance of such court actions. Whenever possible, mediation or consultations with attorneys can help to settle some of the disagreements, allowing you both to remain in charge of what the end result is.
In all cases, you will need to respond to the divorce complaint with an answer. The answer is a document stating your wishes and desired outcomes and why. Make your case here. You really do not get numerous opportunities to do this. You will want to have done this before you have your first meeting with the judge. And, be sure to be aggressive about protecting your rights, protecting the rights of your children, and securing the type of outcome you desire. Be clear about your reasoning, too. This information gives the judge information he or she simply needs to have to make the best decision in your case.
Contact Your Divorce Attorney in Massachusetts for a Free Case Review
It is always best to work closely with an attorney to represent you in this legal process. We are happy to provide a free consultation for you. We encourage you to call your Massachusetts divorce attorney to learn more about your options. We also encourage you to let us help you to determine the best reaction to these documents. Reach us at 855-941-0909 or use our online contact form.