by Jerome Williams on 03/21/21
This is a question that I hear most frequently upon speaking to a potential client regarding a divorce matter. The first thing to do, is breathe. Everything will be okay. While it may be stressful and somewhat surprising that you were served divorce papers via a process server (or sheriff), you don't want to overreact and make an irrational decision. Generally, I always suggest the following, upon being served with divorce papers:
1) First, read through the paperwork [usually it will at least contain a summons, petition for dissolution of marriage, UCCJEA (if children are involved), and maybe a few other documents].
2) If you have a difficult time understanding the legal jargon in the paperwork, do not hesitate to reach out to an attorney to have him/her explain it to you. Some attorneys offer free consultations (but will not review your paperwork). We charge a nominal fee if you are seeking assistance regarding representation.
3) In the meantime, we always suggest that you mark on your calendar twenty "20 days" from the date you were served (to file a responsive pleading). Please note that the 20th day cannot fall on a weekend, or a court observed holiday. If the 20th day falls on any of those days, your responsive pleading will be due the following business day.
4) File a "Motion for Enlargement of Time to File Response to the Petition," as to avoid being defaulted by the clerk. You can obtain a template online. This will in essence, provide you additional time to respond to the pleading, or retain a lawyer, without the fear of being defaulted by the clerk.
Hopefully this short article assists you in properly responding to being served with divorce documents. Of course, if you are seeking assistance with representation, we would be glad to help. Please fill out our questionnaire online, or call us at (727) 474-1227 to see how we can help!