Next Steps After Being Served With A Complaint For Divorce

Have you just been served with a Complaint for Divorce and you are wondering as to the next steps? First and most importantly, as soon as you receive the Complaint, schedule a consultation with an experienced attorney to discuss the process as there are certain deadlines that need to be met. The attorney will provide you with some general information as well as discussing the specifics of your case. Even if you choose to not retain the attorney, at the very least, you will be provided with relevant information that you will find extremely useful during the divorce process. The reason why I recommend that you not delay scheduling a consultation is the fact that you only have a certain amount of time to file a response to the Complaint or the Court may enter default against you. Upon service of the Complaint for Divorce, you have thirty-five (35) days to file an Answer, Appearance or in most cases, an Answer and Counterclaim. In the State of New Jersey, the Superior Court can grant a divorce even if you do not file an answer to the Complaint for Divorce or appear in the case within the thirty-five (35) day period. This is known as a “default”. Default means that your spouse can ask the Court to enter the relief that he/she is seeking without allowing you to file any opposition as you failed to respond to the Complaint for Divorce. You and the adversary can extend the period of time in which you have to answer by way of a consent order beyond the thirty-five (35) day time limit. If you are seeking an extension of time, I would obtain your adversary’s consent prior to the end of the thirty-five (35) day period. By filing a response to the Complaint for Divorce, you are preserving your rights to be heard on all issues involving you matter, including but not limited to custody/parenting time, alimony, child support and equitable distribution, and thus, you have a “voice” in the litigation. Be sure to schedule a consultation today with an experienced attorney. [Posted by Lynda Picinic, Esq.]