How to File an Answer to a Summons to Set Aside Divorce

By Valerie Stevens

Divorce judgments are rarely set aside in the U.S. People usually file an action to vacate an order because they are unhappy with the results not for the reasons set out by the laws. There are circumstances in which a summons to set aside a judgment is proper, such as when the defendant was not properly served. However, the legal requirements are strict. The answer should respond to a legitimate claim in a summons or point out how the summons is not based on proper grounds.

Purpose

A summons to set aside a divorce is not an appeal, which asks a higher court to overrule the lower court’s decision and must be filed within 30 days in most states. A summons to set aside a divorce asks the same court to withdraw its decision based on a mistake the court was not aware of when it ruled, usually within one year. The purpose of the answer is to reply to this summons, giving you an opportunity to respond or disagree.

Grounds

The most common reason a person files a summons to set aside a divorce is because he claims he was not given the legally required opportunity to object to the divorce in the first place. If the plaintiff presents evidence of improper service, a summons to set aside the divorce can be filed. Other reasons someone files a summons to set aside a divorce are detailed in state statutes, most of which are modeled after Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 60. One reason would be if there was new evidence the plaintiff could have discovered before the ruling. Another reason could be the judgment was void in the first place. For example, if the husband was already married to someone else at the time of the wedding, the marriage was not legal and is void. In your answer, you must respond to or disagree with these grounds and provide your evidence.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Answer

An answer to a summons to set aside a divorce is a formal document in which you respond to the other person's claim. For example, if you properly served your ex-spouse, but he claims he wasn't served properly and the divorce should be set aside, dispute this point. Restate that he was properly served and attach your proof. At the end of the answer, include a section in which you specifically ask the court to dismiss the summons.

Filing the Answer

The answer must be filed with the court that originally sent you the summons. Typically the summons tells you the court where you must file as well as the time frame in which you must file. You must reply within the time frame or you lose your right to answer the summons. To file, you can visit the court in person and ask the clerk of court to provide you with the appropriate form to use for your answer. Follow any instructions on the form, attach copies of your evidence, file it there with the clerk of court, and serve a copy on the plaintiff. After you file and serve the answer, ask the clerk of court in your county to notify you of any hearing in the case.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Rules to Show Cause for Divorce

References

Related articles

Answering a Citation of Divorce

Being served with a divorce citation, or summons, often results in hurt and anger. However, you need to keep a cool head and decide if and how to answer the petition. This answer is a specific document filed with the court, in which you respond to the statements made in the petition. The amount of time you have to respond varies from state to state, but it is usually no more than 30 days.

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.

Summons for Divorce in Tennessee

The state of Tennessee recognizes 15 legal grounds for divorce, including the no-fault grounds of irreconcilable differences and continuous separation between childless couples for at least two years. The process starts with one party, known as the plaintiff, serving a summons on the other spouse, known as the defendant. The road to a final settlement can be short or long, depending on the circumstances. Since divorce can be complex, consult an experienced attorney before entering settlement negotiations on your own.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

How Do Interested Parties File Against a Will in Probate?

When a will is probated, interested parties may challenge the validity of the will. This type of lawsuit is known as a ...

How to File a Trial Brief for Divorce

Filing a divorce trial brief is different in different states and different counties within each state. This is because ...

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 Can a Petitioner Drop a Divorce?

If you file for divorce and later change your mind, you can ask the court to drop the case. The legal term for this ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED