If you are the Defendant/Respondent in a divorce proceeding, you will be on the receiving end of the Petition for Divorce. This means that you will be responsible for following specific requirements to respond to that Petition. Thus, it is time to pay close attention, read everything carefully, complete documents completely and accurately, and file and serve timely.
The first thing you should do when you receive the Petition for Divorce is to look at the documents received to establish how long you have to file your response. Also, be sure to look through all of the documents to see if you were also subsequently served with a motion (e.g., Motion for Temporary Orders, Restraining Order, etc.).
As you review your documents, read everything to find out what is being asked for. A good practice is to use a highlighter to mark what your spouse wrote and what you want to respond to. Even if you are intending to represent yourself, it is very important and recommended that you seek a family lawyer to read through the documents to obtain advice about how you should respond.
From this point and depending upon what has been requested, the following elements will likely be important:
- Gathering your evidence and other forms that you will need.
- Reviewing the court’s procedures and rules.
- Determining if there are special local court forms.
- If necessary, making challenges to the court’s jurisdiction or other legal motions.
Once all of these steps have been completed, follow the instructions and complete the Response and other documents completely and accurately. Review all of the documents when complete to ensure that they are complete and accurate. Once confirmed, you will need to make the appropriate number of copies of the documents for serving the other party, filing with the court, and retaining your copies.
From here, you will need to file your response with the court clerk’s office and then serve the documents on the other party.