Now that you have been served with an Original Petition for Divorce, you are the “Respondent” in your divorce case. As the Respondent, it is crucial that you act as soon as possible to protect yourself and avoid having a default judgment taken against you.
Once you have been served you have roughly 20 days to file an answer and make an appearance in your divorce suit. If you fail to make an appearance within the allowed time period, your spouse can go forward with a Default hearing, where often they are granted everything they request in divorce court. This means they can be awarded property and rights related to your children that you are entitled to (Child Custody).
It is important that you get an answer on file with the Court as soon as possible. You may also take the opportunity to file a counterclaim, which is the legal document where you get to request your own relief from the Divorce Court. You may also request a temporary orders hearing if your spouse failed to do so in their original pleadings.
You may not want to divorce your spouse or you may think that your refusal to comply with the legal process will prevent them from getting a divorce. A refusal to appear in court or to sign any documents will not prevent a divorce from occurring; it will just prevent you from having your rights adequately represented. Don’t be mistaken by thinking you can prevent your spouse from getting a divorce, be proactive and protect your rights.
Don’t sign anything without first consulting with a competent Houston divorce attorney. Your spouse may ask you to sign a “Waiver of Service,” which may include language that allows a case to be considered by the Court without any further notice to you. This can also result in a default judgment being taken against you. It’s important to know what you’re signing and protect your rights, consult with a family law attorney who can advise you on how to proceed in your divorce.
For the reasons stated above it is imperative you meet with a competent Houston divorce attorney to go over your rights and options as soon as you have been served. Being served with divorce papers can be an upsetting experience and many people don’t know what step to take next. How you respond to being served will guide the rest of your divorce proceedings so it’s important you start off on the right foot.
Your first action item is to contact a highly qualified Houston Divorce Attorney Mary E. Ramos. She can help you take the correct first step after being served and protect you and your assets during the divorce process.