So, you’ve been served divorce papers. To put it bluntly- it sucks.
Lots of people are unable to think clearly once they’ve obtain divorce papers. It is a stressful, anxiety filled time once you’ve been served. After you have calmed down, the first thing you should do is read the papers. If you can’t get yourself to read them, you should speak with a family law attorney right away. A divorce lawyer will be able to go through the Summons and the Petition for Divorce with you and let you know what your spouse wants in the divorce. It is important that you do this quickly because in Utah, once you’ve been served with a divorce summons and complaint, you have 21 days to have y our answer filed with the court. If you don’t have it filed by the 21st day, then you are in default. This is bad.
What You Need to Do
First decide whether you are going to get legal advice and be represented by an attorney or whether you are going to do it yourself. If you are going to do it yourself, go to the court or to the court’s website, and prepare an Answer. An Answer is the written response to the petition for divorce.
If you are hiring an attorney, the attorney will prepare this document for you and file it with the court.
You should consider each paragraph and decide whether you agree with it, disagree with it or don’t know whether you agree or disagree. You need to respond to each paragraph in order.
You may want to consider filing a counter-claim. A counterclaim is when you are suing your spouse back for divorce and you list the conditions and terms that you want in the final decree. In a counterclaim, you can respond to your partner’s allegations, in addition to make your personal accusations as well as ask for terms you desire from the divorce as well. A divorce lawyer will tell you what you should file and why.
Do you have children under the age of 18? If so, then you have more steps to do. You’ll need to attend the divorce education and orientation course. Here is a link for the calendar of the course dates and times:
Once the Answer is filed you need to file a financial declaration if children are involved. If there are no children, you need to do this as well. This becomes important if a party is seeking alimony (also called spousal support), then you’ll need to complete one of these too.
Watch this video that has more information about divorce in Utah:
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During this entire process you need to be aware of due dates or deadlines. It is very important not to miss a deadline.
When you submit your Answer with the court, you need to give your spouse a duplicate copy (or his/her attorney), just as he/she served divorce papers on you. Declaring and offering your Answer puts both the court and also your spouse on notice that you intend to be involved in the situation. After you’ve done this, the divorce process will include you and you will get copies of all documents going forward.
The next step after financial disclosures is usually mediation. I’ve written about mediation before, but mediation is an attempt to resolve the case without spending years in divorce court.
Being served divorce documents doesn’t have to be a disastrous stage in your life. Just be forceful in taking quick, computed actions in order to establish yourself in the best situation possible for a positive result. Also, do not give up just because you’ve been served divorce papers. Don’t let emotions take over. The Court looks at thousands of divorce cases a year, so it will not have emotion involved. This is another reason you should consider having a lawyer on your side.
If you need help with your divorce in Utah, give us a call for a free initial consultation 801-676-5506. We look forward to seeing you soon.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 876-5875
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