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Why You Shouldn’t Ignore that Divorce Summons

Boyd Family Law Dec. 30, 2021

Going through a divorcee is not easy. It can be even more difficult if your spouse is the one who initiates the legal process. It can be tempting to just ignore the divorce documents when served with them. Fort Worth fathers’ rights attorney Jon Boyd explains why ignoring that divorce summons is not the way to handle a difficult divorce.

Divorce Basics

The divorce process in Texas begins when one spouse files a Petition for Divorce with the appropriate court. The petition sets forth facts about the marriage and asks that the marriage be dissolved. A copy of the Petition must formally be served on the other spouse along with a Summons. The Summons alerts the Respondent (non-filing spouse) as follows:

“You have been sued. You may employ an attorney. If you or your attorney do not file a written answer with the clerk who issued this citation by 10:00 a.m. on the Monday next following the expiration of twenty days after you were served this citation and petition, a default judgment may be taken against you.”

The intended purpose of the Summons is to make sure that the Respondent understands what legal action has been taken and is aware of the applicable time limitations. If you are served with a Petition and Summons, you must file an Answer with the court within the allotted 20 day time frame or you risk the court granting your spouse a default judgment.

What Is a Default Judgment?

As stated on the Summons, when you are served with a Petition for Divorce, you only have 20 days to file a written Answer with the court. Your written Answer effectively notifies the court that you intend to materially participate in the litigation. If you fail to file an Answer, the Petitioner (your spouse) can ask the court for a default judgment after the expiration of the 20-day time period. In essence, this means that your spouse could get a judgment of divorce that includes everything she asked for in the Petition. While the Petitioner must prove that the division of property is “just and right” and that anything involving the minor children of the marriage is in their best interest, when you fail to respond to the Summons, your spouse gets what she asked for in the Petition.

Contact a Fort Worth Fathers’ Rights Attorney

If you were recently served with divorce documents, do not ignore them! Instead, consult with a Fort Worth fathers’ rights attorney at Boyd Family Law to schedule your appointment today.