How to Respond to a Divorce Complaint

By Anna Assad

You must respond to a divorce complaint to preserve your rights and have a voice in the proceedings. If you don't prepare a response and submit it to the court by the date shown on the complaint, you might lose your right to challenge the allegations in the court. When the other party fails to file a response, the court may grant the petitioner a judgment by default, giving him everything he asked for in the complaint.

Step 1

Locate the deadline for the response on the divorce papers. Deadlines vary by area.

Step 2

Contact the court in which your spouse filed the divorce papers. The court should be identified on the papers you received. Ask for the form used to file an answer to a divorce complaint and the court instructions.

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Step 3

Read over the divorce complaint. You typically must address all allegations set forth in the complaint. Each allegation is typically numbered or lettered. Make a list of all allegations you agree to and the allegations you deny. Identify each allegation by its number or letter on your list.

Step 4

Review the allegations you deny and gather disputing facts. You must give facts that support your denial. For example, if item 4 of the complaint alleges there are no marital debts when there is outstanding debt, locate proof of the debt and its current balance so you can use the information on your response.

Step 5

Check the court instructions for allegations you agree with, or admit to. Follow the procedure on the response for all allegations you agree with. Each item on your response should be its own paragraph.

Step 6

Check the court instructions for the rules regarding allegations you deny. You typically must cite the allegation number or letter and state the facts clearly on the response. For example, for a no-marital-debt statement when there is debt, you would deny the allegation and state the debt types, account numbers, current balances and date opened.

Step 7

Compare the completed response to the petition. Make sure the letters or numbers on your response correspond to the right allegations on the complaint. Verify you addressed all allegations.

Step 8

Submit the response to the court. You typically must go the court handling the divorce proceedings in person to file the response and send a copy of the response to the other party immediately after filing.

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How to File a Written Answer to a Divorce Petition


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How Long Can You Take to File Response Papers in a Divorce Case in California?

Responding to the receipt of divorce papers is just as important as filing paperwork initiating the divorce. California law provides that in your response in a divorce case, you may address the facts alleged in the initial filing; you may also mention facts not addressed in the initial filing, and you may even make a claim that the court does not have the power to decide the matter. A spouse served with divorce papers ordinarily has 30 days in which to respond in California.

How to Stop Divorce Proceedings in California in the First 30 Days

Married couples often reconcile their differences once a divorce has been filed. To stop the divorce process within the first 30 days, the spouse who filed for divorce should inform the court there is no need to continue with the divorce process. To do so, the spouse who filed for divorce, called the petitioner, can file a request for dismissal with the court. Only the petitioner can file this form, as the other spouse cannot stop the process. However, if the other spouse has already filed his response, he must agree to stop the divorce and also sign off on the paperwork.

Alabama Divorce Via Default

Whether you cannot track down your spouse or he is completely unresponsive to your divorce complaint, you may still ask courts in Alabama to grant you a divorce without your spouse's input. A default divorce is granted when one spouse files for divorce but the other spouse does not file any documents with the court and does not show up to the final hearing. However, you must ensure that you properly notified your spouse about the divorce, or he may ask the court to void the default judgment.

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