When you find out that your spouse has filed for divorce, you might feel overwhelmed by the experience. This is particularly true if you found out when you received your copy of the divorce papers. That legal service of the divorce papers starts a ticking clock.
There are several things to know before you respond to those papers.
Understand your timeline
In most cases, you have 28 days to respond to the divorce papers. That 28-day response period begins on the date of service, which is typically the day that you receive the papers. Your timely response to the papers is an important part of efficient and effective court proceedings.
Consider an answer
One option for response is to simply answer the filing. An answer serves as your formal response to the petition in which you address the claims raised by your spouse. The answer allows you to present your side of the story in which you can dispute any claims your spouse made and share your perspective.
Weigh a counterclaim
In some cases, you might decide to file a counterclaim instead. Unlike an answer which only responds to the petition, a counterclaim is an initiation of your own legal action within those proceedings. If you file a counterclaim, you can detail your own demands or requests regarding property division, child custody or support. This gives you more control over the process and a more proactive say in your position.
Although the national divorce rate has dropped to 7.6 per 1,000 women, all married individuals should understand the divorce process. The more you understand about your rights when served with divorce papers, the easier it is for you to protect your interests even when you get caught unaware.