Being served with divorce papers can be a devastating experience. The two initial divorce papers you will be served with are the Summons and the Petition for Dissolution. The Summons is a document that officially notifies a party to a case that he or she has been sued. In a divorce, the Summons notifies the responding party, the respondent, that their spouse or partner has filed a Petition for Dissolution.
Relative to the Petition, the Summons is a fairly simple document that serves a simple purpose; it notifies the other spouse or partner and starts the clock for their response. Commonly, a process server will serve you your divorce papers. Once you have been served, this person will produce a declaration of service, which serves as proof you have been officially notified of the divorce filing. Once served, you have 30 days to respond to the Petition.
In the Summons, which your spouse or partner, also called the petitioner to the divorce, filled out, standard family law restraining order language will be included. These are legally enforceable orders that restrain you and your spouse or partner from doing certain thing during the divorce proceedings. Generally, you both will be restrained from taking your minor children out of the state or applying for a passport for them, altering any insurance policies, or taking certain financial actions. For example, you will be restrained from making any large purchases, taking out debts, closing accounts, wasting resources or disposing of, in any way, community property, other than with written consent of your spouse. You can also use community property to pay for attorney’s fees or court costs for the divorce itself even without written consent from your spouse.
It is important to note that you may do these things with explicit written consent of your spouse or with a court order. These orders are there for your protection as well. If you or your spouse violates one of these orders, there will be consequences. For example, if you use community funds to buy yourself a new car after having been served the Summons, you can be held liable to compensate your spouse for their share of those community funds that you took. It can also reflect poorly on your character. If you’ve been served with a Summons, don’t wait too long before you respond. Consult with an experienced family law attorney on what your next steps should be.
Are you in Los Angeles County and have some questions about what to do once you’ve been served? Certified Family Law Specialist Mark H. Karney has significant experience handling Los Angeles County divorces and can help you respond quickly and appropriately. Representing individuals in Los Angeles and surrounding areas, Mark H. Karney will help ensure your divorce is handled efficiently and effectively. Call our office at (310) 393-0236; email us at [email protected] or contact us through our online form today to schedule a free consultation.Related Posts: How Do I Respond to a Petition and Summons? | What Forms are Involved in the Initial Filing of a Divorce? |