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What do you do if you receive a divorce/dissolution petition?

Whether you know that it's imminent or not, being served with a divorce/dissolution petition can be a devastating experience. These petitions generally include the petitioner's requests for child and spousal support, child custody and property division as well as why the petitioner is seeking to dissolve the marriage.

It's essential to contact a New York family law attorney, if you haven't already, before you answer the petition. The answer generally just acknowledges that you've received the petition and states whether you agree or disagree with the various statements and demands outlined in it. You may also provide explanations for your answers, with supporting information, as well as demands of your own. Often a pre-printed answer form is provided for you to do that.

Just as with any other type of lawsuit (which a divorce/dissolution petition is), you will have a limited amount of time to respond to the petition without forfeiting some of your rights. Generally, the petitioner gives the respondent about a month to do that.

If you don't answer the petition, your spouse can enter a default with the court. That means that as the respondent, you have forfeited your right to contest the divorce unless you provide legal justification for setting aside the default.

The preferable course of action is to respond to the petition as quickly and thoroughly as possible to protect your rights and have the best chance of getting the child custody, assets and support you need. Your New York family law attorney can work with you to draft a thorough response to the petition and to help you through the divorce process.

Source: FindLaw, "Answering the Divorce/Dissolution Petition," accessed Nov. 03, 2016

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