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What are my options after being served with divorce papers?

Californians might be under the impression that a divorce stems from a slow and incrementally worsening series of issues that culminates in the decision to part ways. In many cases, that is true. Sometimes, however, being served divorce papers comes as something of a shock. Regardless, most situations have one spouse filing a petition on the other. The spouse who receives the petition and a summons is the respondent. It is important to understand that there are several alternatives after being served. To handle the case in the manner best suited to the individual, legal advice is key.

The petition specifies what the petitioner wants. In the summons, there will be information as to the respondent's rights and how the process of divorce works. There are standard facts like what can be done with assets, property and other items. The petitioner and the respondent are prohibited from moving out of California with children from the union or from seeking a new passport or renewing an existing one without first receiving consent.

If he or she chooses, the respondent can accept the petition and summons and leave it as is. That generally means the petitioner will get whatever he or she wants. The judge will decide based solely on the information provided by the petitioner. This is known as a "true default" as the respondent is not involved. The respondent waives any participation rights in the case.

The respondent can also accept the petition as is and do nothing because there is already a notarized agreement with the petitioner and all critical facts in the case have been agreed upon. This is a default case, but the respondent has agreed to certain terms.

The respondent can file a response, but also come to an agreement about the issues in the case. This is an uncontested case because there is no dispute. Finally, the respondent can file a response disagreeing with the petitioner's requests. This is a contested case because the parties have not reached an agreement and need the court's help to settle the dispute. There will be 30 days to file a response after being served.

Every divorce case is different, but the foundational aspects are essentially the same under the eyes of the law. That is true for the petition and the response. For those who are concerned about how to handle the response and their options, it is crucial to contact a law firm experienced in divorce issues.

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O'Brien Family Law, PC 

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Sacramento, CA 95814

Phone: 916-468-0707
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