What Happens When You Are Served Divorce Papers?

A person who receives divorce papers has 20 days to file an "answer," which is a statement that informs the court about his decision regarding the divorce, according to LawHelp.org. He must answer as to whether he agrees with the divorce complaint and whether he agrees with what his spouse asks the court to do.

LawHelp.org states that a copy of the answer should be mailed to the person who filed the divorce. Legal Aid of West Virginia points out that an answer can be filed at any time during the protected answer period, which is usually 20 days. If no answer is filed, the court waits for the protected period to end before making decisions about the case. Anyone who receives divorce papers should file an answer to ensure that he gets notified of all proceedings in the case, as those who fail to give an answer may not be notified of future hearings and therefore may lose the opportunity to be present to share their side of the case. If the person who received the divorce papers does not file an answer, the divorce case can still proceed by filing for a default, according to LawHelp.org.

A spouse who gets served with divorce papers can also file a counterclaim along with the answer, according to Legal Aid of West Virginia. A counterclaim is a request for divorce on any grounds the person filing believes are appropriate and typically contains that person's requests for relief.