How do I respond to a summons for someone else’s divorce case?

My former employers are going through a
messy divorce and the wife is currently suing
her husband for various reasons regarding a
business they owned together. She’s claiming I
as well as his mother and another coworker
participated in breach of loyalty,
misappropriation of trade secrets, civil
conspiracy as well as some other allegations.

A summons was sent to our homes and its
asking for a response. How do we go about
resounding to these legal documents? The
deadline is approaching because we were told
we would be given a lawyer but we never got
one. What will happen if we don’t meet the
deadline?

Asked on May 4, 2016 under Family Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If you were named as a defendant (which presumably you were, since you received a summons), if you don't file an answer (paperwork responding to the allegations in the complaint) within the time period indicated in or on the summons, you will lose automatically, by "default" (like forefeiting a ball game by not showing up). The former boss has no legal obligation to get you an attorney or otherwise defend you, so you either need to hire your own lawyer or you'll need to defend yourself "pro se" (as your own attorney). If you don't hire a lawyer, draft and file your own answer, serving a copy on each other party (the plaintiff and all other defendants) as well filing it in court. You are allowed to simply deny each paragraph in the complaint and force the other side to prove its case, if you want, so your answer can be simply "denied" in response to each allegation or paragraph in the plaintiff's complaint (though usually, you admit anything harmless and undeniable, like your name, if they go that right).


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