What Is a Summons?

When your spouse files for a Utah divorce, or your ex files for custody, you will receive a few things.

First, you’ll receive a Complaint for Divorce, or you’ll receive a Petition for Paternity. We all kind of know what those are right because they’re pretty self-explanatory.

Second, you’ll receive something called a Summons. This is not so self-explanatory, so let’s discuss what it is.

A Summons is a document that tells you you are being sued (in your case for divorce or child custody). It also gives you instructions how to respond to the Complaint or Petition.

In Utah, a Summons will tell you you have either twenty-one or thirty days to respond. Twenty-one if you were served inside Utah, and thirty if you were served outside Utah.

A Summons will tell you where you can send your response (i.e., what courthouse), as well as consequences if you don’t respond (hint: they’re not good).

Don’t ignore a Summons. You’ll regret it every day.

Example Summons

Here is the language a Summons might contain.


You are hereby summoned and required to file an Answer in writing to the attached Complaint for Divorce/Paternity Petition with the Clerk at the court address shown above. Within the same time, you must serve upon, or mail to Petitioner’s Attorneys, Brown Family Law, at 740 East 9000 South, Ste. A, Sandy, UT 84094, a copy of this Answer, within twenty-one days if you are served inside the State of Utah, or within thirty days if you are served outside the State of Utah, after service of this Summons upon you. If you fail to do so, judgment by default will be taken against you for the relief demanded in the Complaint for Divorce/Paternity Petition, which has been filed with the Clerk of the above-entitled Court and a copy of which is annexed and served upon you. READ THESE PAPERS CAREFULLY. These papers mean that you are being sued.

Published On: January 28th, 2016Categories: CourtComments Off on What Is a Summons?
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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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