Getting served with divorce papers from your spouse can be emotional and confusing, even when it is expected. However, it is important to react thoughtfully by submitting a prompt response in order to ensure your rights and desires after the dissolution of your marriage.
What goes in a Response?
Once you are served with divorce papers, formally called a Petition for a Dissolution of Marriage, you will need to make a legal filing called a “Response” within 30 days by Oregon law. The Response is where you outline what you want once the divorce is finalized. This includes a variety of tangible and intangible things such as property, money, custody, and visitation arrangements for your children. It is also where you can respond to the things that your spouse asked for in their initial filing.
Personalize your response to fit your needs.
Each person’s approach to divorce is different. You may want to fight hard for every single one of your wishes, or you may be flexible and would just like to conclude the process as quickly as possible. Whatever your stance, a timely submission of your response paper will play an integral role in the following proceedings of your divorce.
The good news is that you do not have to make all the important decisions right now. However, you do have to act quickly to protect your legal right to make those decisions later. If you do not, the court or your spouse will be able to take control.
What happens if I don't file a Response?
If you fail to submit a Response to your spouse’s Petition for a Dissolution of Marriage, they will be able to request a default judgment. A default judgment means that the court gives your spouse whatever they asked for in their Petition, regardless of your desires. It is very difficult to change default judgments later, so it is imperative that you submit the Response before this can happen.
An imperfect Response is better than no Response because you can often amend it later if necessary. The only way to preserve your ability to have input in making decisions is by filing a formal Response to the divorce petition within 30 days of being served.
Below is an example of what a Response to Petition for Dissolution of Marriage form may look like.