Divorce Information Sheet
Parental Rights and Responsibilities Information Sheet (for unmarried parents)
The court papers you receive may include an "Acknowledgment of Receipt" form. This form is used to simplify and expedite the "service" process. By signing and returning the form, you are only agreeing that you got the divorce papers. You are not agreeing to everything in the Plaintiff's Complaint. You will have the chance to explain where you stand on issues at the conference, the mediation, and any formal hearings you may have.
Defendants need to complete and file an Entry of Appearance form. On this form, be sure to include your correct address. Then the court will know where to send you all important notices and court dates. "File" by mailing or hand-delivering to the court. Send a copy of this, and all your court filings, to the Plaintiff. Keep a copy for your own file.
Defendants also need to complete and file an Answer. You have 20 days to do this, starting from the day you were "served". The divorce form includes a Counterclaim. This Counterclaim is your request for a divorce. If you do not file a Counterclaim and the Plaintiff decides to dismiss the case or does not show up at the final hearing, the court will dismiss your case. Then you would have to file a new complaint, starting all over again. By including a Counterclaim with your Answer, you are ensuring that your case will move forward even if the Plaintiff decides to dismiss the complaint or does not show up.
Read on. The rest of this information applies to both parents. Within two or three weeks of getting the Plaintiff's Complaint, the court will send both of you a scheduling notice for a Case Management Conference.
Q. Can I sell or get rid of property?
A. The court has ordered both of your to preserve all marital property while your case is pending. This means that you cannot give away, sell, or destroy any property that your spouse may have an interest in. For example, you can't sell the family car. One parent cannot cancel the other parent's or children's health insurance. These orders are included in the Summons and Preliminary Injunction form (see “Notice to Both Parties” on page 2) that the Plaintiff "served" on the Defendant. These orders apply to both of you. To avoid serious penalties, you need permission from the court to do any of these things. We advise you to talk to a lawyer before doing anything that may violate this order.
Q. What happens if I don't go to a court meeting or hearing?
A. It is important that you show up for all court dates. Be on time and be prepared. If you don't go, you can be "defaulted," which means that the court gives the other party what they want because you didn't show up. The court can also charge you for costs, such as court fees or the other party's attorney fees.
Q. What if I move or change phone numbers while my court case is pending?
A. Notify the court in writing right away if your mailing address or telephone number changes. The court clerk needs to be able to find you. Otherwise, you may not get court notices, causing you to miss important court dates. You can use this court form to notify the court of changes.