If you were recently served divorce papers in New Mexico, the first thing you should do is take a deep breath and keep calm. Next, find a place to sit down and look over the papers once just for any dates or times for hearings or deadlines for responses. Then, go back over the papers more slowly to try understand as much as you possibly can, and write down any questions you have for a family law attorney. In the meantime, take a look at some of the common questions people have when they are served with divorce papers and check out the answers.
What do the divorce papers mean?
If your spouse has filed for divorce, the person who gave you the papers, known as a process server, probably handed you the following pleadings:
- A petition for dissolution of marriage
- Summons, which will say you have 30 days to file your answer or some other response
- A temporary domestic order, which prevents you and your spouse from doing certain things, like selling community property or leaving the state with the kids
- Additional papers, such as a motion for a temporary order regarding child support or division of income and expenses
This initial set of papers means your case has just started, but you are not divorced yet. The petition states what your spouse wants the court to award her or him, and the summons starts the countdown for how long you have to answer and tell the judge what you want.
Are the deadlines and dates on the paper important?
All dates and deadlines on your paperwork should be taken seriously. If you don’t respond in some way legally within 30 days of receiving the paperwork, the court can enter what is known as a default judgment against you. This means your spouse will get what he or she asked for. At this point, it is recommended that you speak to an attorney as soon as possible if you need help. Don’t wait until the last minute; the attorney will want to have as much time as he or she can get so that no deadlines are missed and all aspects of your case are properly explored.
What if I received a restraining order, too?
Commonly known as a restraining or domestic violence order, this temporary order can come along with your other papers. Essentially, it’s a request by a person who is alleging he or she was a victim of violence or domestic abuse that was committed by you. A temporary order of this nature is usually issued based on the allegations in the person’s application for the order, which is only his or her side of the story. Many times, the judge will err on the side of caution and issue the temporary order. Even if you are upset by the allegations, do not contact the person in any way, and this includes texts or having family or friends act on your behalf. It’s important that you do not contact your spouse as this could be used against you later in court.
Make sure you attend the hearing date that comes with the order; the location, time and date of your hearing will be in the “Order to Appear.” You will be able to tell your side at this hearing, so don’t fail to go to it, even if your spouse is saying he or she is going to drop the case, as this may not happen. You have to know what is going on and you may need to defend yourself, so confer with your attorney and be sure to attend and follow his or her instructions.
If you receive these papers and need help with your divorce, contact a divorce attorney at Kuffer Law.