What Do I Do If I’ve Been Served Divorce Papers?

divorce papers closeup

If you get served with divorce papers, you need to have a response. Ignoring their presence does not make them go away. Our Bergen County divorce attorneys can help you respond and negotiate better terms. Here is what you need to know about how this process goes once you are served with papers and how you can best protect your interests.

How Long Do I Have to Respond to Divorce Papers?

Under most circumstances, you have just 35 days to respond after being served with divorce papers. This is a strict deadline and there is rarely any way to extend it or rectify matters once you have missed it.

When you respond you can file an answer, indicating that you received the papers and have an argument of your own to present. You can also file a counterclaim that can ask for divorce on different grounds or state something else for the court. Finally, there is the notice of appearance. Even if you do not contest what is in the divorce papers, this gives the court notice that you want to be heard when it comes to issues like child custody, alimony, or property distribution.

If this all sounds confusing, do not worry. One of our lawyers can help you file the necessary paperwork in a timely manner.

Can I Ignore the Divorce Papers?

Technically you can ignore the divorce papers, but this is not usually advisable. The divorce proceedings can simply go on without you, and in most cases this means that the court will grant a default judgment in favor of your spouse. This means that they are basically going to get what they have asked for because you made no effort to take part in this process.

What Happens After I Respond?

After you respond, the negotiations really begin. You and your spouse need to find a way to agree on child custody, child support, alimony, property distribution, and more. That likely means using one of these methods:

Collaborative divorce: All parties work together to find outcomes that work for everyone. This also requires you and your spouse to sign an agreement that says that neither of you will pursue litigation.

Mediation: A mediator can come in and talk things through with both spouses. Then they do their best to develop a reasonable divorce agreement that keeps the best interests of both spouses in mind. This is not legally binding though, and one or both parties can shoot down the mediator’s plan.

Arbitration: This is similar to mediation, but it is legally binding.

Litigation: If all else fails, sometimes solving these sticky problems requires going to court.

Whichever method you decide on, your lawyer will be ready to assist you with every step of this process.

Reach Out to Our Law Firm

When you are ready to respond to divorce papers, contact Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark. We can schedule a consultation and tell you more about how our lawyers can be of assistance during this difficult time.

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