Were you minding your own business when suddenly a stranger walked up, asked if you were indeed you, and then handed you a stack of divorce papers? While this might seem like a farfetched scenario, this is actually how many people learn that their spouse has decided to put an end to their marriage. But no matter how you were given a petition of divorce, there are a few steps you should always take to ensure you are responding to it correctly.
When you are given a divorce petition, you should remember these steps and tips:
- Decide quickly: The first thing you need to do is decide how you are going to respond, and soon. In most divorce filings in Texas, you only have 20 days to file your response. If you do not, the case defaults in favor of the filer, your soon-to-be ex, and whatever divorce guidelines they set in the petition could be accepted. Just in case, double-check the answer form provided with the petition to see your actual response deadline. Keep in mind that sending a response is useful even if you agree entirely with the stipulations of the divorce.
- Read carefully: But are you sure you agree entirely with what has been outlined in the divorce petition? This is not a document you should just peruse or give the onceover. If you have a trusted divorce attorney, now is the time to get in contact with them and ask them for professional assistance. Odds are your spouse had a lawyer’s help when writing the petition so you should have one when reviewing it.
- Voicing your concerns: Realistically, you will have one or two issues, at least, with what your spouse has determined to be the fair conclusion to your divorce. They probably didn’t tip the scales in their favor to spite you but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t react accordingly and contest them. Work with your family lawyer to create a thorough and coherent response that states clearly what you agree with, what you don’t, and why. You don’t necessarily need to get into the details of why you disagree right now, you just need to say that you do.
- Notarize: Stepping carefully is key to your divorce. To avoid any chance of confusion over the legitimacy of your response, it helps to have it notarized and then triplicated. You can probably find a notary public in the courthouse you need to file the forms with anyway, so ask around there if it is a service they offer.
- File: Once you are satisfied with your response, you need to file it with the court that received the request for the petition initially. When you are filing it, ask them if you need to send a copy to your spouse as well. In Texas, this is usually the norm and can also help move your divorce along, so you should probably do this regardless of the court clerk’s answer.
At The Karenko Law Firm PLLC, our Galveston County divorce attorney has been handling family law cases from start to finish for nearly three decades. When it comes time to create and file your response to a divorce petition, allow us to be your legal guides along the way. Call 409.515.7063 to schedule your free case review today.