Having to go through a divorce may be one of the most challenging time in anyone’s life. This notion is particularly true if the choice to split up was not mutual. It can get easy to dodge this type of topic or put off talking to divorce lawyers to get the proper legal advice. To some extent, you may even decide to ignore signing the divorce documents that you’ve been served. The divorce proceedings can’t take place if you don’t sign the papers, right?
Or can it still happen?
The short answer is yes. Paying no heed to the fact that your significant other has filed for divorce may indeed delay the process. However, it won’t stop it on the whole. In reality, setting the papers aside and ignoring them could do you more harm than good. The truth of the matter is it’s always in your best interests to be involved and cooperate in your divorce, even if you are not happy about the decision.
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According to a study conducted by the American Psychological Association, up to 50 percent of married couples in the country end up in divorce. Since the process can get extremely complex, it’s unavoidable to consult with divorce lawyers to seek proper legal advice.
There are two interested parties in a divorce case: 1) the spouse filing for it also called the petitioner; and 2) the spouse receiving the divorce papers, also known as the respondent. Ultimately, how the divorce proceedings will unfold will rely on the reaction of the respondent after the divorce papers have been served.
Uncontested vs. Contested Divorce
This type of divorce happens when the respondent disagrees with all or some of the terms laid out in the divorce papers. Some of these issues may include how the assets are divided, issues regarding custody of the children, and spousal support responsibilities. Divorce lawyers will strongly advise that respondents should be entirely clear about their wishes to contest or challenge the divorce. The best and official way to do this is to file an answer to the divorce application.
On the other hand, uncontested divorce takes place under two scenarios: a) the respondent has completely not answered or signed the divorce papers; or b) the divorce papers were signed and the respondent agrees to all the terms of the split without any issue. When the divorce application is uncontested, the respondent loses the right to negotiate any terms of the divorce.
The Importance of Signing the Divorce Papers
Even if you’ve only been a married couple for a short period of time or you’ve been together for decades, divorces can get extremely complicated. This is especially true when matters of emotions and finances are involved. During a divorce case, the court will want to see that the divorce petitioner and the respondent have adequately addressed the concerns that impact the split. These concerns are also known as the terms of the divorce; some of them are:
- Allocation and division of property
- Child custody and support
The petitioning spouse will have the initiative to outline how he or she would like to address these concerns. In ideal cases, these divorce terms are fair to both spouses; no one will feel taken advantage of. In other cases, the process doesn’t go as smoothly.
The petitioner may try to obtain terms that are much more beneficial to them; these terms may be about asking for sole custody of the children, demanding full ownership of their property, or requesting costly spousal support. The way to negotiate these terms to your favor is by consulting divorce lawyers and properly responding to the divorce papers.
Typically, a respondent is given 30 days to provide their answer to the divorce papers. If no response is given, the court can issue a default judgment. This decision means that the divorce terms laid out by the petitioning spouse are the ones recognized by the court. Thus, you as the respondent will never get the opportunity to contest these terms. Not responding to the divorce papers absolves you of the right to make the divorce terms more favorable to you.
If you are seeking expert advice from divorce lawyers, contact our law office. We will do our best to properly guide you and make sure you are not settling for less when it comes to determining your rights.