How to File a Written Answer to a Petition

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Your answer to a legal complaint is your chance to respond to claims or allegations made against you. A common example of a legal action requiring an answer is a petition for divorce. Be sure to educate yourself or obtain the services of a competent attorney so that your answer is in the strongest form possible, protecting your interests to the fullest. Though you may want to employ the services of an attorney, one is not necessary in completing and filing an answer with the court.

Educate yourself to the procedural rules that govern the jurisdiction in which you live. Courts have different requirements with regard to answer formats and filing deadlines. If you fail to format your answer correctly or to file your answer on time, you may very well lose your rights in the divorce proceedings. You can find procedural documentation for your jurisdiction at your local library, courthouse or legal aid office.

Write a complete response to each allegation in the petition. You must write a statement that either admits to or denies each allegation individually.

Complete the standard, printed forms if available in your jurisdiction. Standard forms may make your job easier, especially if you are proceeding without the aid of an attorney.

Include your signature and the date on the document. In some cases you may need to have another party or notary witness the signing of the answer. You may have to provide additional information such as phone number and mailing address.

Make three copies of your completed answer. File your first copy with the clerk of the court where the petition was filed. Have the clerk stamp the other two copies. Keep the first copy for yourself. Provide your spouse or your spouse's attorney with the other copy of the filing.


  • If your divorce case involves any issues regarding custody of children or support payments, it is advisable to obtain a lawyer's assistance in these complex and potentially emotional matters.



About the Author

Maurice Spellbinder is a freelance legal writer. In addition to a background in legal practices, Spellbinder has studied history and government systems. Political opinion is another passion which takes up a great deal of his writing time. He has been writing for more than 25 years.

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