If you have received a Summons and Complaint in connection with an impending divorce, the state of New York allows you 20 days to make a response. If you have been served outside of New York state, you also have 20 days to respond.
If you are not sure how you would like to respond to your divorce summons, it can be very helpful to speak with a family lawyer in order to gain some insight into your legal rights. Divorce proceedings can be incredibly complicated and emotionally taxing experiences. Family law attorneys are able to parse through the details of your unique situation and use their thorough knowledge of laws surrounding the divorce process in order to provide you with all available options.
When going through an experience such as being served divorce papers, it can be common to feel that you are backed into a corner. It’s important to have a full scope and understanding of your rights and responsibilities, in order to protect yourself, your assets, and your family.
How Can I Respond To a Petition For Divorce?
Responding to the Summons and Complaint will consist of three avenues. The first is to file an Affidavit of Defendant. This affidavit is usually sent along with a Summons and Complaint for your convenience to sign and return. This will result in an uncontested divorce. The plaintiff will then be able to file the rest of the necessary paperwork and put the case to the court calendar.
Another option is to file a Notice of Appearance. This is usually drafted and filed with the help of a family law attorney and will result in a contested divorce. In this case, it would be advisable for both you and the plaintiff to speak with a family law attorney, if you have not done so already.
The final option available when you receive a Summons and Complaint for a divorce in New York is that you may choose to ignore them. In this instance, you would not sign and return an Affidavit of Defendant or a Notice of Appearance. This is absolutely not advisable as it will cause an uncontested divorce in which you have “defaulted”.
What Happens If I Fail To Respond to a Petition For Divorce?
When you fail to respond to a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, the court may grant your spouse a default judgement and will proceed with the case without your involvement. In this situation, the court may grant your spouse approval on any of the terms of the divorce, and you may not be able to contest them. The consequences of this could be catastrophic, depending on the circumstances of your unique situation.
If you have defaulted on a divorce filing, or if the response deadline is upcoming, don’t hesitate to contact a family law firm as soon as possible.