How long do I have to file a response to divorce papers? 34 Answers as of June 21, 2011

My partner recently serviced me divorce papers. I do not want to go through the process. How long do I have to decide before I sign the papers? Should I get an attorney to represent me?

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Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser
Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser | Donald F. Conviser
Your Response must be filed and served within 30 days after you were served, or your former partner can request that the Court enter your default. If your former partner chose to end his/her relationship with you, your failing to timely respond won't interfere with his/her ability to get the divorce. You would be far better off retaining an experienced Family Law to represent you, and you would be far better off timely filing your Response, because not to file a response leaves you in jeopardy of rulings against your interest - far better for you to participate in the process, so that you can have a vote in the quality of the rulings.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/21/2011
Law Office of Daniel B. Rubanowitz, APC
Law Office of Daniel B. Rubanowitz, APC | Daniel B. Rubanowitz
In California, after being personally served with a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (and a few other required documents), absent an agreement to the contrary, you have 30 days within which to file your Response to the Petition with the Court. You do not have to sign any papers unless you were requested to sign an Acknowledgment of Receipt, confirming your receipt of the documents in which you were served. In general, it is always a good idea to hire an attorney as a consultant or as your attorney of record to assist you with the dissolution of your marriage. Good luck.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/20/2011
Seattle Divorce Services
Seattle Divorce Services | Michael V. Fancher
The Summons should specify the time period. Under Washington law it is 20 days if your were personally served within the state, but may be 60 or 90 days for other kinds of service. An attorney is always recommended to help you protect yourself. Don't let the time to respond run out, as then your spouse may take a default and you could be precluded from having any voice in the final terms of the divorce.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 6/20/2011
Howard W. Collins, Attorney at Law
Howard W. Collins, Attorney at Law | Howard W. Collins
Generally 30 days, but look at your papers carefully. Custody or temporary support issues may have shorter periods within which to respond. If you did not know the answers to the questions you asked, you need a lawyer now.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 6/20/2011
Fredric H. Aaron, Attorney at Law, P.C.
Fredric H. Aaron, Attorney at Law, P.C. | Fredric Harlan Aaron
If you are served with legal papers of any kind, the summons should state the time frame to answer. In general, you have 20 days to put in an Answer to the Complaint filed against you. However, in divorce cases, judges will require your physical appearance in court to answer the summons. A date and time should appear in the papers. If they don't, then your spouse or his/her attorney will send you a follow-up containing the date and time for the appearance. If you have any issues to be decided in the divorce (such as equitable distribution of marital assets, custody and visitation of children, spousal maintenance or child support), you should retain an attorney to represent you in the case. Divorces contain many complex legal issues, and this is not the time to try to save a few dollars by appearing pro se.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 6/20/2011
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    You have to appear if you want to be heard but the case can proceed without you. Retaining counsel is a personal choice you must make.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Beresford Booth PLLC
    Beresford Booth PLLC | S. Scott Burkhalter
    You have 20 days following service if served within the State. The response deadline should be stated in the summons served on you.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Michael Rose Attorney at Law
    Michael Rose Attorney at Law | Michael Rose
    30 days. Sign what papers? There are different steps. Filing for a divorce is the first step.What items do you have to split? If you think that the divorce will not be fair, or you have children, have a 401k, own a business, and (or) have a house then you might need an attorney. Easier to take care of it the first time instead of not liking the outcome and trying to fix it.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
    Your question leads me to think that you have not been served. By way of explanation - service occurs when a process server delivers a citation or summons. If your partner simply handed you papers to sign, that is not service of process and you are not technically involved in the lawsuit, unless you sign something saying you are involved or making an appearance or waiving service. If you were served, the papers explain - in legalese - that you have 20 days plus Monday. Think of it this way, if you were served on the 5th, add 20 days to get the 25th. Look at the 25th on the calendar and then find the first Monday that follows that date, this is your "Answer date"; for example, served on the 5th day of June 2011, adding 20 days makes it the 25th, the 25th is a Saturday, so the answer date is Monday the 27th. If served on the 1st, add 20 days to get the 21st which is Tuesday and the following Monday is still the 27th.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    You need to look closely at the Summons that was served on you. It should tell you exactly how long you have to file a Response in your state. In Colo and most states it is 20 days unless you are served in another state, in which case it is 30 days. In Colorado it doesn't matter that you don't want the divorce because it only requires one spouse to believe that the marriage is irretrievably broken. So, the divorce will happen whether you file a response or not. But, if you don't file a response and participate in the case, your spouse will probably get whatever he/she asks for because the court will presume that you don't care.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Law Office of Patricia Van Haren
    Law Office of Patricia Van Haren | Patricia Van Haren
    You must respond to the divorce within 30 days of being served. If you do not response, your spouse will win by default. It is always advisable to hire an attorney to represent your interests and to make sure that you are protected in a divorce proceeding.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    We are divorce lawyers in Augusta, Georgia. Yes, you definitely need to retain a divorce attorney to help you file an answer (and counterclaim) within 30 days of when you were served. Retain a divorce lawyer ASAP, well before any deadline, to help you with all your rights and options. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Law Office of Michael W. Bugni
    Law Office of Michael W. Bugni | Jay W. Neff
    It depends on exactly which papers we are talking about. If you have been served with a summons and petition for divorce, you are supposed to file and serve a response to the petition within 20 days of the date you were served. In addition to having a limited amount of time to respond to the petition, there might be other papers that you also have to respond to. Further, the amount of time you have varies. For example: If you were served also with a calendar note, motion, and declaration for temporary orders, you have a limited amount of time to respond to those. The exact amount of time you have to respond is likely different from the amount of time you have to respond to the summons and petition. Also, the amount of time you have varies from county to county. If we are talking about a temporary orders hearing in King County, WA, then, your response to the motion and declaration has to be filed and served before Noon four court days before the date of the hearing. As to whether you should hire an attorney, my feeling generally is that if you can afford to do so, then, you should hire one. There are a lot of little deadlines and rules that you have to comply with. An attorney will know what those are and do his best to be sure than they are complied with. Without an attorney, you could easily miss one or more of them, to your detriment. Therefore, if you can afford to do so, you should probably hire an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    The Coyle Law Office
    The Coyle Law Office | T. Andrew Coyle
    It's always a good idea to have a local attorney review whatever paperwork you have been served with. Those papers should state how long you have until you need to respond (generally, something like 30 days).
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Pontrello Law
    Pontrello Law | William Pontrello
    In Florida 20 days from when received formally.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Law Office of Robert L. Fiedler
    Law Office of Robert L. Fiedler | Robert L Fiedler
    I would usually recommend at least a consultation with an attorney. There is nothing for you to sign unless you reach a written agreement.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC | Vincent J. Bernabei
    In Oregon, 30 days from the date of service. In WA, 20 days from the date of service if served in WA and 60 days if served outside WA. You should get an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Horizons Law Group, LLC
    Horizons Law Group, LLC | Michelle B. Fitzgerald
    In Wisconsin you have 20 days to respond to the divorce filings. If you do nothing, it will still proceed in the normal course. You should get an attorney if there are concerns over division of assets, property, and children or support issues.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C.
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C. | Theodore W. Robinson
    At the very least, you should speak to a matrimonial attorney about your rights and what time sequences will be impacting upon you. If one spouse wants out, there's not much you can do about it I'm afraid, except get used to it and deal with it. As one author I recently read said:"Pain always has a way of showing up in one's life, suffering is optional" and that's based upon whether you accept a situation or not. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A.
    Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A. | Joanna Mitchell
    20 calendar days (not just business days) from the date you have received it a response in writing must be filed with the clerk of the court where the papers were filed. And it is strongly suggested that you not sign anything without consulting first with an experienced family law attorney, as once you sign rights away, you may not be able to get them back My office offers free initial telephone consultations if you would like to discuss this matter in more detail, as well as explore the potential rights and options available.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Meriwether & Tharp LLC
    Meriwether & Tharp LLC | Patrick Meriwether
    In Georgia, you have thirty days from the day you were served to file an answer to a divorce. Since divorce results in an order that can be enforced by contempt, I recommend legal counsel. Even if you are settling the case, you do not want to enter an agreement that could be legally detrimental to you.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation
    Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation | Paul Wallin
    You have 30 days to respond to the divorce papers by filing legal papers. If you do not do so the other spouse can take a "default judgment against you" and you definitely do not want that to happen. It is definitely a very good idea to retain a lawyer to represent you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn | Paul Zahn
    30 days from the date you are served. An attorney may be a good idea. If you are in my area and are looking for an attorney, please contact me for a free consultation.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Law Office of Richard B. Kell
    Law Office of Richard B. Kell | Richard B. Kell
    If one party wishes to get a divorce, then once a divorce action is filed there is very little that the other spouse can do to stop the process. Regarding the answer, it must be filed within 20 days of the date of service. Thus, unless you plan on representing yourself (which I don't recommend), you should look into retaining a divorce attorney as soon as possible.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    You have thirty (30) days from the date of service to serve and file an Answer and Counter Petition.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    You don't have to sign the papers but you have to respond to the petition or file a notice of appearance. You should get some legal advise.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Gregory T. Buckley, Attorney at Law
    Gregory T. Buckley, Attorney at Law | Gregory T. Buckley
    You have 20 days to file a written response with the court. If you fail to do so, the court can enter a default and the case is effectively over at that point. If you are unsure of how to proceed, you should probably meet with a family law attorney in your area.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Law Office of James Lentz
    Law Office of James Lentz | James Lentz
    You should absolutely discuss your options with an attorney. Response time varies by state, and whatever you do don't miss that date.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Willick Law Group
    Willick Law Group | Marshal S. Willick
    You should ALWAYS at least get the advice of qualified, independent family law counsel. And matters vary by State. In Nevada, one has 20 days after service to answer or otherwise plead, and if the defendant does nothing, default can be taken.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller | Jody A. Miller
    The answer depends on how and by whom you were served. Yes, you do need an attorney to represent your interests; I wouldn't delay in retaining one.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    Get a lawyer. Let me stress this. Get a lawyer. Your post contradicts itself. If you were served papers by the court, the deadline is set by law (30 days in Georgia different in other states). If you were given proposed papers to sign, you have only until the other parties' patience runs out. You should not sign or respond to anything until you meet with a lawyer. And you need to do that immediately. (By the way, if one party wants a divorce, there will be one, so the only issue is the terms).
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Michael Apicella
    Michael Apicella | Apicella Law and Mediation
    You have 30 days to respond, which is stated on the first page of the Summons you were served with (form FL-110). As for hiring an attorney, it is always a good idea. Think of it like this. if you break your leg, do you need to see a doctor? No law says so, but is sure is a good idea.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/17/2011
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