Responding to a divorce summons can be a bit overwhelming. Once you’ve been served papers, though, you have a limited amount of time to file a response. If you fail to meet the response deadline, the courts may grant your spouse everything they requested in the divorce petition, including child custody, support, property rights, and more.
To protect your rights, it’s important to file a proper and timely response. A divorce attorney in Texas can help you with your response and guide you through the divorce process from beginning to end. But here, we’ll quickly cover the basics of responding to a divorce summons, including a few of the biggest mistakes to avoid.
Divorce Petitioner v. Respondent
The spouse filing the divorce petition is known as the petitioner. If you’ve been served the divorce petition, you will be known as the respondent. It is now your responsibility to respond to the petition.
Make no mistake about it; a divorce petition is a lawsuit. It will look different than other types of suits, but ultimately, you are being sued by your spouse. The biggest mistake you can make at this point is to ignore the petition or fail to meet the response deadline.
What Happens After a Divorce Is Filed?
When you were served the petition for divorce, you should have also received a citation. The citation has several important dates, including your deadline to respond. Typically, you’ll have about 20 days.
If you’re like most couples and your divorce is contested (meaning that you disagree on certain issues), then there are two possible types of responses:
- General Denial Answer
- Counter-Complaint for Divorce
A general denial answer is when you simply “answer” your spouses’ requests and demands. For example, if they requested a certain amount of child support each month but you don’t agree to the amount, you will file a general denial answer, requesting evidence or reasoning for their demand.
A counter-complaint, on the other hand, is when you send your spouse a petition for divorce in response to the one you received from them. In other words, you sue them back. This is quite useful if you have serious disagreements with your spouse, have demands of your own, and want to ensure that your rights are fully protected.
Basically, it takes the general denial answer one step further.
Here, you can find a sample response to a divorce petition for a divorce without kids.
What Is an Uncontested Divorce?
If you’re one of those rare couples that agrees on all aspects of how to divide the property, child support, and custody, then the divorce is uncontested. You may simply be able to fill out the forms and pay the standard divorce fees.
However, this is rarely the case. While it’s normal to want this process run as smoothly as possible, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to not speak up. If you’re genuinely not happy with some of your spouses’ requests or feel that they’re unfair, it’s important to file an answer and make your wishes known. You must protect your rights from the very beginning.
How to Get Help
At the end of the day, the biggest mistake you can make is trying to navigate this process on your own. The legal system is complex and even more so when the emotions of divorce are involved. The best way to protect your rights and ensure a fair divorce is to speak with an experienced divorce attorney in Texas as soon as you’re served a divorce petition.