What Happens if You Refuse to Sign Divorce Papers?
All divorce cases start when one party officially files for dissolution of the marriage, either through their divorce lawyer or directly at the courthouse. After the petition is filed, the other spouse is served with divorce papers. The sheriff or a process server can serve the papers on the other spouse. The spouse who is served with divorce papers then has an opportunity to respond to anything contained within the divorce papers.
Sometimes, the party served with divorce papers does not want to respond to the petition. This is often because they do not want to get a divorce. While ignoring divorce papers is always an option, there are benefits and drawbacks that come with this option. Below, our Orlando divorce lawyer explains more.
Failing to Respond Can Result in a Default Divorce
In other types of civil legal cases, when one party does not respond, the other party can automatically win their case. When this happens, however, the party that filed the petition can obtain a default divorce. A default divorce can be obtained if your spouse can show that you have been served with divorce papers, or that they have made every effort to serve you with papers but have been unsuccessful. For example, if your spouse notified you through a publication and you did not respond, they may proceed with a default divorce.
If your spouse is granted a default divorce, you will not have the opportunity to represent yourself. This can have a very negative impact on your case and could result in the loss of valuable property or a forfeiture of alimony. After a judge has made the final decision on all terms of the case, those decisions are final, even if you have not appeared in court or failed to respond.
How to Respond to Divorce Papers
Being served with divorce papers is never easy. You may feel uncertain about what to do next, and you may not even want to respond, hoping the matter will go away. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Refusing to sign the divorce papers will actually only hurt your chances of obtaining the settlement you receive.
You have only 20 days to respond to the divorce papers once you have been served. The information you include in your response will depend on any allegations your spouse has made against you, and your own personal situation. It is always best to speak to a divorce lawyer who can help you prepare your response and guide you through the process for the best chance of success.
A Divorce Lawyer in Orlando Can Help You Respond to Papers
Being served with divorce papers is never easy, and responding to them has many challenges, as well. At Anderson & Ferrin, P.A., our Orlando divorce lawyer can help you fill out the forms and with all the steps that are necessary to take after so you have the best chance of obtaining the full settlement you deserve. Call us now at 407-412-7041 or contact us online to request a free consultation and to learn more.