By: Valerie E. Anias, Esq.
Most people are not surprised when they are served with divorce papers. But what do you do when you are served? What if your spouse has an attorney and you don’t? What if you don’t want the divorce? What if you don’t agree with the reasons your spouse has listed for the divorce? On this week’s #FamilyFriday article, the attorneys of ERA Law Group, LLC want to help you know what to do next!
Many people feel that being the Plaintiff or Defendant matters. Truth is, it doesn’t. There are benefits to both. Just because your spouse served you with divorce papers does not mean that they may not be at fault for the divorce or that they’re automatically in a superior position. All this means is that they will be presenting their case first. And, don’t worry. You’ll present your case next!
What have you been served with? You will have a summons. That is the paper that orders the Plaintiff to serve you. You will also have a copy of the pleading filed. That is the Complaint for divorce and their request for relief. This may include child support, custody, alimony, division of marital property, etc. You will also receive a copy of their Domestic Case Information Report which is simply a cover letter identifying the parties and type of action.
Now what? After you have been served you will have 30 days (or 60 days if you’re out of state) to file an answer. This is important because if you fail to file an answer the Plaintiff can file a Motion for Default. If the Motion is granted and you are found in Default, the Court may award all of the relief directly to the Plaintiff without giving you an opportunity to present your case. Don’t let this happen. You should always respond to Court documents!
You can also file a Counter-Complaint. Perhaps the Plaintiff’s complaint fails to state that they had been cheating on you, for example. You may want to file a Counter-Complaint alleging adultery, for example. A procedural benefit of filing a Counter-Complaint is that if the Plaintiff decides they no longer want to pursue the case but you still do, your Counter-Complaint will keep the case moving forward.
Once the Complaint has been served and you’ve filed your answer, the Court will schedule a hearing to get the status of the case and schedule the important dates for the rest of the case.
If you’ve been served, call ERA Law Group, LLC attorney Valerie E. Anias, Esq. at (410) 919-1790 and ask about our FREE 30 MINUTE CONSULTATION!