What do I do if I’m served with a Divorce Complaint by my spouse?
Well, the short answer is file a response…fast!
I’m sure this sounds nerve-racking (and is probably just one additional stress added to you during this difficult and emotional time) but you should file a response!
You’re probably thinking: why do I need to file an Answer to a Divorce Complaint?
The short answer is to protect your rights! If you do not file an Answer, the other party has a great chance of simply receiving what they ask for. For instance, if she is asking for custody and alimony and you do not file an Answer, the Court could simply order what she is asking for. Unless you agree with exactly what she is asking for, you should always file an Answer and possibly a Counterclaim.
What is an Answer and Counterclaim?
The Answer is your typed response to the allegations in the Complaint. A Counterclaim is your own request for relief. For instance, if she files a Divorce Complaint simply asking for a Divorce but you want the Court to award you custody and child support, you must file a Counterclaim asking for custody and child support. If you do not file a Counterclaim and simply file an Answer, you could be prevented from asking for custody and child support at Court.
When do I have to file it?
You have 35 days from the date you are served with the Complaint to file an Answer. If you fail to file an Answer within that time period, the Court will notify you that you are at risk for a default (which is the Court’s recognition that you have failed to file an Answer or otherwise protect your rights). If you receive notice you are at risk for a default, you will have an additional 35 days to file an Answer.
How do I file it?
New Jersey does not have a standard form to file an Answer to Divorce Complaint. But it’s easy to prepare an appropriate response and I’ll gladly tell you how! The Complaint will have a series of numbered paragraphs. Your Answer must answer admit or deny the allegations of each numbered paragraph. Filing an Answer and Counterclaim is important and for that reason, you should hire an attorney to represent you or at the very least, consult with an attorney to ensure that your Answer and/or Counterclaim are properly prepared.
Do I have to pay a fee?
Yes! The filing fee is $200.
The contents on this blog entry are provided for informational purposes only. You should consult with an attorney to determine how the law applies to the facts of your particular case.