If you and your spouse have decided to part ways, your spouse might serve you with a summons and petition. In California, you have the option to respond in different ways to the summons and petition. But before you decide how to respond, you should read both the summons and the petition carefully to clearly understand the information they contain, including your rights and limitations related to the divorce process. Once you decide to answer, you have 30 days after you receive the summons and petition to file your answer with the court.
Three types of responses with three different outcomes
When you receive a summons and petition, you have the option of responding in one of three ways. Each type of response, however, will also lead to a different outcome. Your choices include:
- Not answering, resulting in a default
- Answering in agreement, resulting in an uncontested divorce
- Answering in dispute, resulting in a contested divorce
Agreeing with the summons and petition
If you agree with the summons and petition but do not answer them, you will have a true default, which means the judge will decide the divorce issues based on your ex-spouse’s petition. You can also have a default with agreement if you do not answer but you and your ex-spouse have already negotiated and created a divorce agreement. However, in this case, the judgment will include your wishes as well as your ex-spouse’s wishes. Finally, you can also answer the summons and petition to say you agree and that the divorce is uncontested.
Disagreeing with the summons and petition
If you disagree with the summons and petition, you can answer it by stating your disagreement, resulting in a contested divorce. This will let the court know that no agreement has been reached and that the issues related to the divorce will be settled by the court.