How to File a Response after being served with Papers in California
Time to File Response
You must file a response to the divorce petition within 30 days from the day you’re served with the petition. If you do not file a timely response to the petition, your spouse can ask the court to proceed with the divorce action and the judge can base the judgment on only the information provided by your spouse.
What are your options?
Your options include, Doing Nothing or Request a Default Judgment with Agreement or File a Response.
Option to Do Nothing
Firstly, you do not have to respond to your spouse’s divorce petition. However, if you fail to file a response, the court may likely grant your spouse’s requests outlined in the Petition docs. In other words, the judge will base his decision about children and property issues and other relevant legal matters on the information your spouse provided in the Petition docs. You will not have a say in this decision-making process. However, this may be a perfectly reasonable option for short term marriages with no children, property, or debt.
If you decide there are no issues in dispute and to not file a formal response, your spouse may file a Request to Enter Default. Once a default is entered, the case is allowed to proceed unilaterally by the petitioner. Also, note that the petitioner can take the default of the respondent any time on or after the 31st day after you were served with papers.
Option to Request a Default Judgment by Agreement
If you and your spouse have reached an agreement regarding all relevant legal matters in your divorce, the petitioner and the respondent may sign a marital settlement agreement. By signing a MSA, you would not have to file a formal response to the petition. Both parties benefit from this option because it allows both parties to take part in the divorce and the agreement process. Plus, it avoids the unnecessary and added expense of paying the respondent’s first appearance court filing fee. Ultimately, if both parties agree to sign the MSA, the divorce remains as uncontested divorce.
Option to File a Response
When there is no option to Do Nothing or no MSA, you may want to file a formal response to a California divorce petition. For example, if you disagree with anything your spouse requests in the petition, you should file a response. Filing a response would result in a contested divorce. However, even if you believe you may eventually reach an agreement via MSA on the issues, you may still want to file a response.
If the petitioner procrastinates and does not cooperate with attempts to reach a marital settlement agreement, you may want to file a response to prevent the petitioner from taking a default. Then, by making a court appearance you may facilitate the MSA agreement on legal issues. Plus, a court appearance will prevent an unexpected “surprise” default judgment down the road, if the petitioner decided to not cooperate with resolving issues.
Also understand, that filing a response to a California divorce petition will result in the court making the final decisions on contested issues. Except, if the parties later agree between themselves via a MSA, the court will review the MSA and use it to determine the division of the marital estate, child custody and visitation, and child support. Without a MSA the court will determine the issues for you.
30-Day Deadline for Response to California Divorce Petition
You may file a response up to 30 days after the date of service. However, if you fail to file a response or request an extension by the specified deadline, the Petitioner may go to the county clerk and file Request to Enter Default and thereafter, a default judgment against you. Also know that a response is considered incomplete if it does not meet all applicable legal requirements of California law. If you believe you were not properly served or the court does not have personal jurisdiction to hear the divorce case, you can respond with a motion to quash.
Filing Your Response at Court
You must arrange to serve your spouse with a copy of your signed response forms before you file it with the court. Arrange for an adult to mail a copy of the response to your spouse at the address given in the heading of the petition. You cannot do this yourself. Ask the person mailing the document to complete a proof of service form stating the time and place of mailing. Make copies of the response and the proof of service. File the originals with the court and ask the court to file-stamp the copies. You will need to pay a filing free.
Our Law Office of Don Glass, charges a flat legal fee of $295.00 to prepare the initial response forms and we may also handle filing and serving your response forms.
We handle cases in all cities in California Statewide.
For more info, please visit our website at https://CaliforniaOnlineDivorceAttorney.com
Or call 877-631-4644 or 951-501-3554 or 619-821-8846 or 415-223-1230