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What If I Fail To Respond To The Papers I Get

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You have no obligation to respond to any papers that your spouse gives you unless they were properly served upon you. Generally speaking, a process server or the Sheriff must formally deliver to you the court documents. (unless you signed some sort of waiver of service, which is often done in a Florida uncontested divorce where the parties agree on everything)

The court documents to be served are the Florida divorce petition for dissolution of marriage. Note that there are other ways for the sheriff or process server to serve you. For example the papers can be left with someone you live with who is 15 years of age or older.

Once you are properly served, you have twenty days to file an Answer or pleading responsive to the petition for divorce. You can admit or deny the allegations in the petition or you could also for example file a motion to dismiss the petition if it was filed in the wrong place etc. You can also file a counter petition asking for whatever it is that you want.

Failure to respond to the petition for Florida divorce by the deadline imposed by the court rules could lead to a default judgment being entered against you. (although in a Florida divorce a party may plead anytime before entry of a default against them)

A default could make it difficult to defend against your spouse's allegations or ask for whatever it is that you want. There are certain legal circumstances where you may be able to have a default set aside. Those circumstances include where a final judgment or order has been entered upon the default, and there has been:

Mistake, inadvertence, surprise or excusable neglect, fraud, misrepresentation or other misconduct of an adverse party, or where the judgement is void. The motion to set aside must be filed by the deadline imposed by the rules of court.

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