How quickly do I have to respond to a summons in regards to a divorce?

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How quickly do I have to respond to a summons in regards to a divorce?

The summons says, “You are summoned to appear before this court and to file you pleading to the petition within 30 days. If you fail to file your pleading, judgment by default may be taken.” What is “file your pleading”?

Asked on August 1, 2011 Missouri

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You have thirty days from the date you were served with the documents to file your answer to the petition for divorce.  File your pleading means filing your answer to the petition with the court.  When you file your answer, attach a proof of service.  The proof of service verifies the date of mailing to your spouse.  You can either use a court form proof of service or you can write your own.  If you write your own proof of service, it just says that you are over 18 and the attached documents were sent via first class mail unless specified otherwise to ________ (name and address of spouse) on __________ (date).  You sign the proof of service at the bottom under penalty of perjury.  The date you sign should be the same as the mailing date and the same date you file your documents with the court.

As for your answer to the petition, there may be a short, simple court form for you to complete.  If that isn't the case, and you don't have an attorney, look for the general format for an answer at the law library.  The law librarian can help you find it.

If you don't file the answer with the court and serve it on your spouse within thirty days from the date it was served on you, a default judgment will be entered against you.  If that happens, you will need to file a motion to set aside the default.


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