QUESTION: MY SPOUSE HAS RECEIVED THE DIVORCE PAPERS, WHAT NEXT?
ANSWER: IT DEPENDS, BUT GENERALLLY ONE OF 3 POSSIBILITIES:
1. A Default Judgment
2. The case is settled
3. The case goes to trial
1) Default Judgment: Once the Respondent (your spouse) receives their official copy of the Divorce petition, they have thirty days to file an Answer to the Petition. An Answer responds to each and every statement you have made in the divorce Petition. The usual answers contained in the Answer are as follows:
a) your spouse agrees with a statement
b) your spouse disagrees with a statement
c) your spouse says they do not know whether a statement is true.
Your spouse must file an Answer to the Petition. If Respondent fails to file an Answer within 30 days, you may take a Default Judgment against your spouse. This means that you may go to the Court and ask the Judge to enter a Judgment of Divorce giving you whatever terms you desire.
2) Settlement: in the best-case scenario, the Court can finalize a case thirty days after your spouse officially receives a copy of the Petition for Divorce. This is the best-case scenario and happens when you and your spouse settle all aspects of the divorce and prepare settlement papers for the Court to approve.
3) Trial: The parties cannot reach an agreement on the terms of the divorce, and require a Judge to hear evidence in the case and make decisions for the parties on how property will be divided, or with whom the children will be living.
Posted by Ann R. Littell Mills
Courtney & Mills, LLC
540 E. Chestnut Expway, Suite 100
Springfield, MO 65806