How to File an Answer to a Summons for Visitation

By Anna Green

Although a summons can be a general notice to appear in court, within the context of a visitation proceeding, a summons often acts as a formal notice of proceedings that a party to a case will receive when he or she is served a visitation complaint or petition. The type of document the party receives will depend on whether the court has already established visitation, and visitation is being denied, or the other party wants to establish visitation. When you receive a summons for your visitation case, it will specify exactly how long you have to file a response. In many jurisdictions, it will be 20 days.

Although a summons can be a general notice to appear in court, within the context of a visitation proceeding, a summons often acts as a formal notice of proceedings that a party to a case will receive when he or she is served a visitation complaint or petition. The type of document the party receives will depend on whether the court has already established visitation, and visitation is being denied, or the other party wants to establish visitation. When you receive a summons for your visitation case, it will specify exactly how long you have to file a response. In many jurisdictions, it will be 20 days.

Legal Issues

Each state makes its own rules and procedures regarding visitation, so the exact procedure and content of a response to a visitation summons will vary between jurisdictions. In other words, the type of form you must use and what you will need to include in that response will depend on what court is hearing the case as well as the nature of your visitation case. Responding to a summons appropriately and according to court procedure is essential to maintaining your rights, so it is crucial to read the summons carefully and make sure you understand what documents you need to file, where you need to file them and when you must submit them.

Get a free, confidential bankruptcy evaluation. Learn More

Answer

If you are able to reach a mutually agreeable visitation arrangement with the party who filed the initial complaint, it may expedite the legal process if you prepare a joint visitation agreement and file it with the court together. If you disagree with the complaint or petition, however, your answer should explain the specific reasons why you disagree with said visitation arrangement. After you have prepared your answer to the visitation complaint, generally, you will need to sign the document in front of a notary public.

Filing Procedures

When you receive a summons and complaint or petition, it may include a blank response form for you to fill out. If you do not receive such a form, you may need to contact the clerk of the court or visit the court’s website to request a blank response form or sample answer to summons for visitation. When filing an answer to a summons, you will typically need to file the original document with the court, along with several photocopies of the document. The clerk can explain how many copies you need to file. In most instances, you can either hand-deliver your written answer to the court and pay any filing fees in person or send it by mail along with the filing fees. You will also need to serve your answer on the party who issued the summons. Acceptable methods of service vary by jurisdiction, but typically, you can use a private process server or sheriff. Once you have served the party issuing the summons, you will typically need to file written proof of service with the court.

Assistance

If you are unclear about how to respond to the summons or have questions about filing your answer, it is generally advisable to contact the clerk of the court, as the clerk’s office typically processes these documents. In addition to helping you understand summons procedures, the clerk can also tell you whether you will need to pay any filing fees. The court clerk cannot offer legal advice, however.

Noncompliance

If you fail to file an answer to the visitation compliant in the time frame listed on the summons, the court may enter a default judgment in favor of the party who submitted the request. In other words, the proposed visitation arrangement may be granted without giving you an opportunity to assent or voice your objections. This may ultimately compromise your rights. If your summons and accompanying complaint state you must appear in court, it is essential you attend the hearing. If you do not attend, the court may enter a default judgment.

Get a free, confidential bankruptcy evaluation. Learn More
How to Serve Divorce Papers Under Massachusetts State Law

References

Related articles

How to File an Answer in Child Custody

Each state has its own rules regarding the legal process for custody, but most follow broadly similar procedures. Parents should understand the difference between physical and legal custody: Physical custody relates to where a child lives, and legal custody involves making important decisions for the child. A court can award physical and legal custody to either or both parents. Court rules in all states allow parents the opportunity to file answers in child custody cases. The purpose of an answer is to rebut any statement in the original complaint and to state your point of view regarding custody of your child.

What Happens if I Ignore Divorce Summons Papers in New York?

The ostrich-like tactic of burying your head in the sand never works in a divorce situation. Depending on the extent of your marital property and whether you have children, ignoring a divorce summons in New York can cause big problems you can’t easily undo. New York law makes it relatively simple for your spouse to go ahead and get a divorce without your cooperation.

How to File a Divorce/Support Summons in Massachusetts

When the time comes to make a separation official or file for divorce, both spouses have a right to appear in court and be heard. To make sure that both have notice of the proceedings, Massachusetts courts require the person filing for divorce or seeking support after a separation to have her court papers delivered to her spouse. She must also serve him with a court-issued document called a summons, "summoning" him to appear in the action.

Related articles

Documents Needed for the Respondents in a Divorce Summons

Receiving notice that your spouse filed for divorce can be a stressful experience. Most states require that the filing ...

How to File a Response to a Summons if I Have an S-Corporation

An S corporation responds to a summons in the same way as a regular corporation. A summons informs the corporation that ...

How to File an Answer to a Divorce Summons

When you receive a Summons and Complaint in a divorce action, you typically have 20 days in which to respond. Your ...

How to Collect New Jersey Alimony in Arrears

If your ex-spouse has stopped paying his alimony or is not paying as much as he is supposed to, the past due alimony ...

Browse by category