Family Matters.
When It Really Matters.

What are Your Options for Responding to a Divorce Petition?

On Behalf of | Jan 18, 2020 | Divorce

What are your options for responding to a divorce petition in Carlsbad or North County San Diego?  What happens if you don’t answer the petition at all?

Either party in a California marriage has the right to file a petition for divorce.  You officially become the respondent when the petition and a summons are served.  The first choice you have is not to respond at all.  If you don’t, the case will still be heard

Not every respondent decides to respond to a divorce petition.  If you have a written notarized agreement with the filing spouse in which all divorce matters are decided, and the contents of the petition match that agreement you may choose to do nothing.  This is very rarely the case.

However, when there is no agreement and you do not file an answer, you “default” or give up the right to participate in deciding the issues associated with your divorce.  This is referred to as a true default, and your spouse will likely receive everything asked for in the petition in terms of:

Child custody and parenting time

Division of assets and debts

Division of retirement

Possession of the family home

Disposition of family pets

Spousal Support

What are your options for responding to a divorce petition instead of ignoring it?  There are basically two options:

One of these situations is contesting the divorce, which means that you disagree with part or all of what the filing spouse is requesting in the petition.  In this situation, the court ultimately makes the decisions about any child custody, child and spousal support, and property division matters or affirms whatever the couple ultimately agree upon in negotiations or mediation.

The second situation is an uncontested divorce, which means that the spouses have agreed on all of the issues in their divorce.  In this case, the court needs only to ensure that the agreement is fair for each party.

In California, you have 30 days to respond to divorce petitions and summons.  It may be difficult to understand everything in the documents when you first read over them. If you need help understanding any of the contents of the petitions and summons or deciding whether and how to answer we invite you to review the recommendations of our clients and the legal industry and contact Burke & Domercq or call 760-389-3927 to learn more or schedule an appointment.  In most cases, the worst choice you can make is to do nothing.