What Happens if I Don’t Answer a Divorce Complaint?

You’re sitting at home on a Thursday night, and there’s a knock on the door. You answer it and find a woman who hands you papers.

You’ve been served with a Complaint for divorce

On the first page of the papers, there’s something called a Summons. The Summons tells you you’re being sued for divorce. It also tells you that if you have been served for divorce in Utah, you must respond within twenty-one days. It also tells you that if you have been served for divorce outside of Utah, you must respond within thirty days.

What happens if you don’t respond?

The answer’s pretty simple: you default. Losing by default in divorce is the same as losing by default in sports. If you don’t show up, you don’t play the game, and you lose automatically.

In divorce, however, the stakes are a little higher. Defaulting means your spouse gets whatever he or she asked for in the Complaint. If she asked for sole custody of the children, she gets it. If he asked for you to be responsible for 100% of the debt, you take it.  Whatever is asked for is received.

So, don’t default. You will regret it every day of your life if you do.

Last Piece of Advice

If you can’t hire an attorney or don’t have time to right now, file an Answer to the Complaint. If you file an Answer, then your spouse can’t default you and have bought yourself some good time to hire an attorney.

Simplest way to file an Answer is to deny every allegation in the Complaint for divorce. All you have to do is write something like, “I deny every allegation and prayer for relief contained in Petitioner’s Complaint for Divorce.”

This isn’t the best way to Answer, but it will do in a pinch.

Published On: January 17th, 2016Categories: Default DivorceComments Off on What Happens if I Don’t Answer a Divorce Complaint?
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About the Author: Marco Brown
Marco C. Brown was named Utah’s Outstanding Family Law Lawyer of the Year in 2015. He graduated with distinction from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 2007 and is currently the managing partner of Brown Family Law, LLC.
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