Part IV – Your Answer
One of the worst things a person can do after getting divorce papers is to ignore them. Never ignore your divorce complaint! At this point, a few days have passed. If you are going to hire a divorce lawyer, which is highly recommended, the next thing you and your lawyer will be doing is answering the divorce complaint filed by your spouse. You may also decide to file a Counter-Petition, but more on that later.
Your Answer is your formal legal response to the information contained in the Divorce Complaint. Depending on the type of Complaint you received, your Answer may be a short and easy document or a more complicated process. Many times, the Divorce Complaint is deliberately kept vague since there is no need for a TRO and a Divorce Complaint is a publicly filed document. Many people don’t want to air their dirty laundry out for everyone to see, and therefore answering the divorce complaint is very simple. Responding to these types of complaints typically involves correcting or agreeing to the statistical information, denying the requests for grounds, and admitting or denying the limited facts. The most important thing is to get your answer filed. Many attorneys are not as concerned with the thirty day time period because we have often been in contact with your spouse’s attorney and they know the answer will be forthcoming. However, you will get no such benefit if you are representing yourself. If you are representing yourself it is of the utmost importance that you file your Answer within the time limit (thirty days in Tennessee) to prevent the filing of a default against you.
If the Divorce Complaint was a complicated document with a lot of allegations and TROs, you absolutely will want to hire a lawyer. They will assist you in answering because in these types of complaints, you frequently need to admit some sentences but not others within the same paragraph, which is complicated. Failing to properly deny or admit averments contained in the divorce may result in you inadvertently admitting to things which are not true or denying things that are and the attorney will later use these responses to raise questions about your credibility.
At minimum, file some sort of Answer within the proper window. If necessary, your attorney can file an amended version later with leave of the court. The absolute worse thing you can do is fail to hire an attorney and then fail to answer the complaint.
For more information, read Parts I, II, and III HERE
- CR Divorce Attorney Morgan Smith 2015
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