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What do I do if I was just served with Divorce Papers?


Some people prepare and plan for a divorce and are not at all surprised to receive the papers, however, other people, in spite of planning for a divorce, asking for one or even actively working with an attorney to begin the process are quite surprised when actually being served the divorce paperwork filed by the other party. For some people, it feels like an earth-shattering moment. Under both, Missouri and Kansas law, as long as one party asks for the divorce, it will be granted even if the other party to the marriage disagrees with the request. The fact that one party is asking for a divorce is sufficient for the court to allow and grant the divorce.

Following the receipt/service of divorce paperwork, it is important that you immediately ensure that you are protecting your legal rights. You may have a short time frame (as little as a couple of weeks) to respond. Additionally, if the opposing party files emergency motions, you may need to respond and prepare your legal strategy in an even shorter period than what is permitted to you under the law. It is imperative that you meet with and select your skilled family law attorney to assist you with developing a strategy and implementing the plan of action to protect your legal rights. Having an attorney by your side who you believe in will give you confidence and invaluable guidance through this important process.

You Have a Very Short Time Period to Respond

It is important that you note/write down the specific date you were served as the deadline to file a response needs to be calculated from the specific date you were served. From there, it is important that you read the divorce paperwork, as well as any orders signed/issued so that you can be in compliance with them. In some situations, particularly in Kansas, or in the case of an urgent situation in Missouri, there may already be orders issued for possession of the house, child custody, maintenance and child support or other financial obligations. Your compliance with any court orders issued is required and you will certainly need to get immediate legal advice to address the information contained in the orders. Your lack of understanding of the orders will not be a legal defense in court for violating the orders.

Another important aspect of the service is the short time deadline you are under to file a response. Your failure to respond to the paperwork in a legally-compliant fashion, within the time period required based on the paperwork you were served with will allow the other party to proceed with a divorce without your involvement (also known as default status). Of course, if you are already in default, this can be cured through appropriate filings with the court, but it is imperative that you act urgently.

How do you Respond to Divorce Paperwork?

When you file your legal response to the paperwork, it does not mean that you agree with or even want the divorce. It simply means that you are telling the court that you want to be involved in the divorce case process, including providing input to the court on decisions and rulings made, as well as making certain requests of the court as to the outcome you would like to see.

Where Do You File Your Response?

Of course, if you are working with legal counsel, your family law attorney can assist you with preparing and filing your response. The response is filed through the circuit clerk’s office in the county where the divorce filing was initiated by the opposing party. You are also required to supply your response to the filing to the Petitioner/opposing party who filed and initiated the case (or their attorney if they have one).

Divorce is a Tedious and Legally Technical Process. We are Here to Help You.

The divorce process is a legally technical process where filing incorrect paperwork can be the difference between a fair and reasonable outcome where you get to provide input as to the results of the process or filing non-compliant paperwork which the court could choose to disregard and proceed as though paperwork was not filed. As part of your paperwork filing process, you will need to make many decisions in terms of what you ask for or request, and meet multiple time deadlines.

In the midst of such a difficult time, allow our experienced family law attorneys at Pingel Family Law to be there to help you through the process. Call us today at (816) 208-8130 to schedule your consultation and find out how we can assist you with responding to the divorce paperwork you were served with.