When a New Jersey spouse decides he or she would rather divorce than remain in an unhappy relationship, it often prompts a series of life-changing events, especially when children are involved. The person filing a divorce complaint in this state is called the “plaintiff,” and the other spouse is called the “defendant.” It is always best to learn more about the specific laws and procedures that govern divorce before heading to court.
The Defendant Has a Limited Amount of Time to Answer
When a defendant receives official notice of divorce proceedings, he or she has several options, one of which is to submit an Answer to the court. A defendant could also disregard the notice, which would ultimately enable the plaintiff to file a Motion for Default. Finally, a defendant may also enter an Appearance in the proceedings and indicate agreement with the relief sought in the petition.
A defendant might agree with some issues mentioned in a divorce petition but not others. For instance, he or she might agree to divorce but disagree with the plaintiff’s claim of entitlement to sole custody of the children. In any case, once a divorce petition is served, if the defendant in question plans to participate in divorce proceedings, he or she must serve and file a formal answer within a certain of time, which is typically 30 days.
Failure to Respond May Result in Default
In many states, if a defendant does not respond to a properly served divorce complaint, the spouse who filed may then file a motion for default. Since New Jersey’s divorce laws might be different from another state’s, it is important for someone considering filing a petition (as well as someone who has been served papers) to seek clarification about the specific default laws applicable to the proceedings. It is helpful to consult with an experienced family law attorney before filing for divorce or upon being served a petition.