What Happens When You Are Served Divorce Papers?

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Service of Divorce Papers

When you are served with divorce papers, it is a formal notice that a divorce action has been filed by your spouse. Upon receipt of the divorce papers, one should review the papers in order to assess the basis for the divorce and the deadline in which to respond to the papers. Usually, the papers will contain the reasons for the divorce, which are proscribed by the statute of the state. If the spouses agree to the divorce, the divorce will proceed as an uncontested divorce. However, where spouses cannot agree, the divorce will be referred to as a contested divorce. A contested divorce is generally entails a lengthy court process.

Pendency of a Divorce Action

Once the initial petition has been filed, the divorce action can proceed. The person who was served with the divorce papers should consult an attorney in order to ensure that his rights are protected. Thereafter, papers should be filed in which the spouse answers the allegations in the divorce papers and presents any arguments or defenses of his own. During the pendency of the divorce, most spouses will meet with their respective attorneys in order to attempt to work out a settlement. For example, these matters might include a review of the distribution of property and assets of the spouses, alimony issues and child issues if applicable, such as child support, child custody and visitation. The couple might agree to these matters, but might be unable to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. As a result, a trial might be necessary.

Trial and Conclusion

If a trial ensues, each spouse will have the opportunity to present his and her side. Each party must present evidence and prove the basis for the divorce and any other issues requiring resolution. In such a case, the parties can present witnesses to advance his or her position. For instance, if a spouse is alleging infidelity, the spouse might seek to present a witness who was privy to the affair. Once a determination on the divorce and related issues has been obtained, a judgment for divorce will be issued by the court.


About the Author

J.S. Nogara began writing in 2000, publishing in legal texts, newspapers, newsletters and on various websites. Her credits include updating "New York Practice Guides: Negligence." She is a licensed attorney admitted to the New York State courts and the Federal Court, Southern District in New York. She has a B.S. from the University of Connecticut, a J.D. and an LL.M. degree.