Can You Ignore A Divorce Complaint In Pennsylvania?
Divorce is an extremely emotional process, but there are legal rules and procedures that must also be followed. A divorce case starts when one spouse files the appropriate papers with the court. Once the paperwork is filed, the divorce papers must be served to the other party. The other spouse, known as the defendant, then has 20 days from the date of receiving the divorce petition to respond. Unfortunately, this does not always happen.
People do not always handle the idea of divorce well and they think ignoring it may make it go away. Others become legitimately busy and so, 20 days pass before they know it. Ignoring a divorce complaint will not make the case go away. In fact, not responding properly could actually hurt you for many years to come.
The Divorce will Proceed Even if You Do Not Respond
Just because you do not respond to a divorce complaint does not mean that it will end the case. The legal action of divorce is a lawsuit and the case will proceed even if you have not responded. However, you will not have the chance to appear in court, and this can work against you. The hearings will proceed and while this may seem like the ideal situation, it is not. A judge may find in your spouse’s favor simply because you did not appear, and you will have to live with the ramifications of those decisions.
Why You Should Always Answer a Divorce Complaint
Even though you have no legal obligation to answer a divorce complaint, there are many reasons why you should respond. If your spouse made allegations against you in their petition, responding will give you an opportunity to deny them and state your case. If you have your own allegations against your spouse, you can also include these in your answer.
After filing your answer with the court, you will receive a notice that contains the date and location of your first hearing in court. During the hearing, and throughout the entire process, you can then make arguments and present evidence about why you deserve alimony, child custody, certain assets, or other matters that are of importance to you.
Taking the above steps is important, as it is the only way to secure the terms most favorable to you during the process. However, you can only take them if you respond to the initial complaint. Responding to the complaint will also help protect you in case your spouse takes certain action, such as trying to secure exclusive possession of the home.
Our Divorce Lawyer in Media Can Help with Your Response
Few people want to respond to divorce papers, but it is critical for your future that you do. At Barbara Flum Stein & Associates, our Media divorce lawyer can help you file a response in a timely manner and prepare you for the rest of the process. Call us now at 610-565-6100 or reach out to us online to schedule a consultation.