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Answering the Divorce Petition


If you have been served or accepted service by mail of a divorce petition, you generally have 30 days to answer or file a response. If you don't answer the divorce petition, you are considered in default and may forfeit your rights to contest issues such as child custody or property division during divorce. When a respondent fails to file a response, the divorce court may assume he or she is in agreement with the divorce petition and grant the petitioner’s requests.

The Purpose of Answering a Divorce Petition

An answer to a divorce petition acknowledges the filing and receipt of the petition. In a response, usually there is a response to any allegations or requests made by the petitioner. The response may be in agreement or in objection to the petitioner’s requests. The answer may also agree with some parts of the divorce petition and disagree with others.

If the couple agrees on all divorce issues, the respondent may simply file an answer indicating he or she agrees to the divorce petition, which allows the petitioner to go forward with an uncontested divorce. In preparing an answer to a divorce petition, it is best to consult a local divorce lawyer to learn about the divorce laws in your state and how your divorce may be affected.

The Elements of an Answer

The answer to the divorce petition should provide clear and direct responses to each statement the petitioner included in the divorce petition. In the answer, the respondent should clearly agree or disagree with the petitioner's position on each divorce issue and provide an explanation if necessary. The respondent may also make demands in the answer to the divorce petition.

In some states, forms may be provided to simplify answering a divorce petition. These forms often contain a list of issues, so the respondent may check off whether he or she agrees or disagrees with each issue. Space is also included for specific responses and any demands or requests the petitioner may have.

Speak With a Local Divorce Lawyer about Answering a Divorce Petition

If you have been served with a divorce petition, connect with a local divorce lawyer to protect your rights during divorce. Set up a preliminary consultation with a divorce attorney near you today by calling 877-349-1310 or filling out a divorce case review form.

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The above synopsis of divorce petitions is by no means all-inclusive and is not intended to provide legal advice. These laws may have changed since our last update and there may be additional laws that apply in your situation. For the latest information on these divorce laws, please contact a local divorce lawyer in your area.