Divorce can be one of the most traumatic experiences that people go through, and it is often worse when it comes as a surprise. Whether it is expected or not, understanding the next steps to take is essential for anyone faced with new divorce proceedings. Laws vary from state to state, but most courts allow people some time for a response, which may be from three to four weeks. Immediate action is not required, so taking time to get one’s thoughts in order is appropriate. It is not always easy to think clearly after being served with divorce papers.
Divorce papers may also be called divorce complaints or petitions. The complaint is a pleading or formal statement that will begin a civil action. It explains the legal foundation for why the court has jurisdiction for the case, and what the spouse wants in the divorce. There may also be a court summons or citation, which lets the defendant know that the court has the power to hear the case. Additional papers may include emergency orders for temporary custody and other documents. It is important to accept the papers, read them carefully, and note whether the spouse is using an attorney.
Once the fog has cleared, defendants should make a decision about legal representation. Divorce lawyers can provide help from simply filing an initial response to handling most of the work. Some spouses hire attorneys midway through the proceedings, so a defendant served with papers by a spouse that did not initially hire one might want to consult one during the early stages, just in case. It is also important to start getting organized. Making copies of important paperwork and taking inventory of assets are necessary steps. If children are involved, their needs should take priority.
Filing answering documents acknowledge that the respondent received the divorce papers. They also provide responses for things such as spousal support, child custody, and property division. Failing to respond can lead to court if there are no disagreements to the terms, which means that the respondent will not be able to argue anything about the divorce afterward. Filing spouses must receive copies of the answering documents. Once they are received by the court, both parties will receive notices to meet with a judge for a conference. This is when it will be decided whether court intervention will be needed.
If you are seeking a divorce, the Monmouth County divorce lawyers at Fox & Melofchik, L.L.C. can help. We will provide you with effective legal representation for all issues pertaining to your divorce. For a free consultation, call us at 732-493-9400 or complete an online form today. Located in Eatontown, New Jersey, we serve clients Monmouth County, Ocean County, Middlesex County, Mercer County, Ocean Township, Fair Haven, Eatontown, Red Bank, Tinton Falls, Shrewsbury, Middletown Township, Wall Township, Sea Girt, and Spring Lake.