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What If I Am Served With Divorce Papers?

Authored By: Children's Law Center
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Information

What if I am served with divorce papers? What do I do?

  • You have 21 days from the date you were served with the papers to file an Answer.
  • The Answer is your statement that tells the court whether you agree or disagree with what your spouse says in his/her divorce Complaint.
  • If you agree with what your spouse wants, you can fill out a Consent Answer. Click here for a Consent Answer you can fill out online. You will need to print it and file it with the court. You can also fill it out by hand.
    • If you agree with what your spouse wants but you think your spouse has made some factual mistakes in the Complaint, you can state that in your Consent Answer.
  • If you disagree with what your spouse has asked the court to do, or if you want the court to do something else, you can fill out a Contested Answer and Counterclaim. Click here for a Contested Answer and Counterclaim you can fill out online. You will need to print it and file it with the court. You can also fill it out by hand.

How do I file my Answer?

  • File the Answer at the Family Court Central Intake Center. You can also register to file on-line. See General Information About Family Court Cases for information about registering for efiling.
  • You must also serve a copy of the Answer on your spouse. You can serve the Answer by mailing a copy to your spouse by regular first-class mail.

Does my Answer have to be notarized?

You do not have to have your answer notarized if you use the court form.

What happens if I don't file an Answer?

Your spouse can ask the court to enter a default. This means that the judge can go ahead with the case and make decisions without your participation.

What if I want to file my Answer after the 21 days is up?

You may be able to file the Answer anyway. You can go to the Family Court Central Intake Center and see whether they will accept your Answer.

If CIC will not accept your Answer for filing, you must file a "Motion for Permission to Late File." Your Answer must be attached to the motion. Click here for a Motion for Permission to Late File that you can fill out online. You will need to print it and file it with the court. You can also fill it out by hand.

Last Review and Update: May 16, 2019