If you are going through a divorce in California, one thing you will receive is the Summons. The divorce Summons can be scary to read so I wanted to discuss this form in detail.
The first thing the divorce summons says is “You Are Being Sued”. What do you mean you are being sued? Look, while this is a family law matter, it is still a lawsuit filed in a court of law. You just need to get over it. And understand this. You are being sued, but not like in civil court where you are the defendant because someone has alleged you have done something wrong.
The next thing you will read is the following caption:
“You have 30 calendar days after this Summons and Petition are served on you to file a Response at the court and have copy served on the Petitioner. A letter or phone call will not protect you. If you do not file your Response on time, the court may make orders affecting your marriage, your property, and custody of your children…”
Of all the divorce forms, this one troubles people the most and I want to discuss a few things.
First of all, what the court is referring to about the “30 days to file a response” is in regards to the other party having the ability to file a “Request to enter Default”. While technically it is true that you need to file a response in 30 days, it is not necessary if you are planning on proceeding by way of default or by using a hybrid judgment for your divorce.
I am a big fan of the hybrid divorce. This is a cross between a default and an uncontested. A hybrid divorce judgment allows you to do all the things required by an uncontested divorce (both parties complete financial disclosures and enter into a written agreement) and a true default divorce.
When preparing a hybrid style divorce, you do not have to worry about filing a response. So while the Summons says you have to file a response or risk losing certain rights, it is not part of the paperwork when completing a hybrid divorce in California. This is because with a hybrid a request to enter default will be filed.
The difference is that the request to enter default will be submitted with the final divorce judgment along with the agreement instead of after the 30 day mark.
If you have more questions about the California Divorce Summons or about the “30 days to respond” language, please feel free to give us a call.
We are a licensed divorce service located at 27240 Turnberry Lane, Ste. 200 Valencia, CA 91355 and can be reached at 661-281-0266.