What Is a Summons With a Notice of Divorce?

By Mary Jane Freeman

Spouses can't file for divorce in secret. The other spouse must be notified of the proceedings so he can properly represent both himself and his interests. As a result, spouses who file for divorce must ensure a summons is delivered to the other spouse, which informs him of the divorce case and how to proceed.

Spouses can't file for divorce in secret. The other spouse must be notified of the proceedings so he can properly represent both himself and his interests. As a result, spouses who file for divorce must ensure a summons is delivered to the other spouse, which informs him of the divorce case and how to proceed.

Notifying Spouse of Divorce

When a spouse files for divorce, she does so by filing a petition in local court. The official name may be petition for divorce, complaint for divorce, petition for dissolution of marriage, or something similar. Once filed, the court will return copies to her along, with a summons -- both of which must be served on the other spouse. The summons is a legal document that informs the other spouse that a divorce has been filed, describes what is being asked for, such as alimony or custody, and informs him of his rights and responsibilities concerning the case, and also informs him of any upcoming deadlines.

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Response to Summons

In general, the recipient spouse must respond to a petition and summons by filing an answer within a prescribed period of time, usually 20 or 30 days from receipt. He can agree to all, some or none of his spouse's requests. If some or all requests are rejected, the respondent spouse will typically substitute his demands in their place. For example, he may ask the court to award him the family house instead of agreeing to give it to his spouse. After sending in his answer, the court will typically hold a hearing on the matter and issue a divorce decree after resolving any marital issues. If he doesn't respond, the court will likely order a divorce by default. When this happens, the spouse who filed for divorce often gets everything she requested.

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What Happens in Minnesota If a Divorce Becomes Defaulted?

References

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What Is a Waiver of Citation in a Divorce Case?

The start of a divorce case in all 50 states involves a two-prong process. First, a petition for divorce is filed. Second, the divorce petition is served, or formally delivered, to the spouse not filing for divorce. All states permit the non-filing spouse to waive service of the divorce paperwork, if she so desires. Although each state has its own process through which a party to a divorce may waive service, there are some common characteristics.

Divorce by Default

A divorce by default is one of the simplest ways to divorce. It generally occurs when one spouse doesn’t answer a divorce complaint within the required time frame. Sometimes, when spouses are in agreement as to the grounds and terms of the divorce, they might decide to obtain a divorce by default as a way to avoid the additional paperwork involved in completing an uncontested divorce process. Each state has its own set of rules regarding fees, service and documents concerning the divorce process. You can use an online legal document service to prepare and file all your divorce paperwork.

What Happens if a Divorce Respondent Doesn't Answer in Missouri?

A spouse might refuse to acknowledge divorce papers for any number of reasons. He might hope that if he ignores them, they'll go away. He might mistakenly believe that if he doesn't respond, he can block the divorce. In Missouri, neither of these assumptions is true. If the respondent doesn't answer a petition for divorce, the divorce will happen anyway, sometimes with very unfavorable consequences to him.

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