“You have been served.” These four words can be scary, infuriating and even heartbreaking. Whether or not you expected your spouse to file for divorce, receiving your divorce papers can be a highly emotional event. Once you receive your divorce papers, you may want to burn them, bury them or simply ignore them. However, it is vital that you respond to them promptly, as a failure to do so could lead to truly negative consequences.
If you have received divorce papers and have not yet hired an attorney, please consider doing so as soon as possible. The sooner your attorney can familiarize him or herself with your case, the sooner you and your attorney can create a plan of action designed to get you a fair property divorce settlement and child custody arrangements in the best interests of any minor children you may have.
Should you fail to seek out the guidance of an experienced family law attorney and respond to your divorce papers in a timely fashion, you may face a default judgment. Default judgments are sometimes issued in cases where the spouse who has not filed the papers fails to respond to them. In such cases, judges will assume that both spouses agree to the terms outlined in the original petition. If you are subjected to a default judgment, you will generally be compelled to agree to whatever terms your spouse has outlined, even if they are unfair to you and do not accurately reflect your marital situation.
Source: Findlaw Law & Daily Life, “What Happens If You Don't Respond to Divorce Papers?” Daniel Taylor, Oct. 8, 2014