Being served with a divorce petition can have any number of effects on an individual. For some, the act is expected and perhaps even welcomed. Others, though, may find themselves shocked that their spouse has filed for divorce. Regardless of how an individual feels, he or she needs to be prepared for what comes next. Although most people are familiar with at least the basics of family law issues, such as property division and child custody, those issues only surface after some sort of response is made to the initial petition.
Under California law, there are essentially four ways that an individual can respond to a divorce petition. The first way is to not respond at all. By doing this, the individual puts him or herself at risk of being defaulted in the divorce. This means that everything that is requested in the petition will likely be granted. Therefore, very rarely is failing to respond to the proper course of action to take.
There are three ways to actively respond to a divorce petition. The first way is to ensure that an agreement is made between the parties, then choose not to file a formal response to the petition. Although the respondent will still technically be defaulted in this instance, the agreement will still kick in, leaving him or her protected. The second way to actively respond is to do the exact same thing, except also file a formal response with the court. This is considered an uncontested divorce, and all divorce legal issues are settled in accordance with the agreement. The last way to respond is to file a formal response that challenges the assertions and requests made in the petition. This is a contested divorce, and important legal issues will have to be settled through negotiations or litigation.
Choosing how to respond to a divorce petition can be critically important, as it sets the stage for how one's case will progress moving forward. Those who have questions about the response option that works best for them can discuss the matter with a skilled divorce legal team.