Responding to a Petition for Divorce

divorce, petition, Aurora family lawyerThe first court document filed in a divorce is a petition for the dissolution of marriage. Once you have been served the petition you typically only have 30 days to file a response. The way you respond to the petition will affect the rest of the divorce process.

Timing of the Response

The usual deadline for a response to the petition is 30 days, but sometimes more time may be required. Lawyers often ask for extensions to the deadline to both avoid a default judgment and to make sure that there is adequate time to properly prepare the response. However, the deadline to file will not be extended too long because nothing in the divorce case can continue until the response is filed.

Response Basics

The basic purpose of the response is to answer the allegations made in the petition. The initial filing contains certain facts about the marriage, including the length of the marriage, the residency of the spouses, and that the marriage was a lawful marriage. It may also contain other allegations about the fitness of one spouse to be a parent, the length of separation, and many other facts and claims.

The response will address the facts by either admitting them or refuting them. This task should not be taken lightly because once a fact is admitted, it may not be possible to take the admission back.

When the Petition is Defective

Sometimes, the petition may be defective for some reason. If the petition was not served properly, or the petition is filed in the wrong state or county, the first response to the petition may need to be a motion to dismiss. A motion to dismiss will not address all of the facts and allegations, but instead will lay out why the court should dismiss the petition.

In other cases, the petition will be too confusing for the other spouse to properly respond. In this situation, the first response may be either a motion to dismiss the entire petition or simply a motion that the court require the petitioner to correct the petition so it is more definite and certain.

Reasons for a Counter Petition

When the petition is fully answered, the response may also contain a counter petition for divorce. This is not strictly required, but it does allow the other spouse to make his or her own allegations and claims.

Some lawyers will file a petition and, if the judge makes some early unfavorable decisions, will simply unilaterally withdraw the case if there has been no counter petition filed. Many lawyers will file a response and counter petition to keep the other side from using this procedural trick to try and get a more favorable ruling.

 If you have been served with divorce papers, you need to speak with a skilled and dedicated Aurora divorce lawyer right away. You may only have a short time period to respond. Call [[phone]] today for a consultation to better understand your options.

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?ActID=2017&ChapterID=56&SeqStart=1100000&SeqEnd=21700000

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