When a couple in Florida begins divorce proceedings, one spouse might file first and then ensure that the other spouse legally receives a copy of the divorce petition. Once that petition is delivered, the receiving spouse has the choice to either answer the petition or not respond at all. These two choices have different implications.
The spouse who files the petition for dissolution of marriage is called the petitioner. After the petition is filed in court, the petitioner has the legal duty to make sure that the other spouse, or respondent, receives the petition. This is called being served.
Once the respondent receives a copy of the petition, they are given a limited amount of time to officially respond to the claims and demands included in the petition. If they do not respond, then the court assumes that the respondent is agreeing with the petitioner’s claims and statements and returns with a default judgment on the divorce.
Responding to a divorce petition
It is usually best to respond to the petition after being served. The petition will include claims and statements that will affect the outcome of the process, including:
- Information about the marriage and reasons for the dissolution
- Child custody
- Financial assistance demands
When the respondent answers the claims, they state that they either agree with each claim and demand or that they disagree and then put forth their own position. This way, they can clearly state what they want regarding child custody, support and division of property.
Unless you are sure you completely agree with your ex-spouse’s claims and demands stated in the divorce petition, you should officially respond to the petition. This way, you can protect your interests from the beginning of the process.