Divorce Guide

Divorce Guide

Defending a Divorce Petition

Defending a divorce petition is mostly rare, and Legal Aid service mostly never grants to defend a divorce, on the grounds that 'it takes both parties to make a marriage work'. The court allows the spouses to appoint a mediator with the District Judge and their lawyers also have to attend and sort it out.

Most of the divorce cases are granted on the basis of irreconcilable differences. Even the court assumes this ground when a petition is filed. If the other spouse decides of defending a divorce petition to the court stating that the marriage has no irreconcilable differences, it is highly impossible to convince the court once the petition is issued by the spouse.

When a petition is served, it is always accompanied by what is known as an 'acknowledgment of service' which the recipient is asked to complete, sign and return to the court. That acknowledgement of service also includes one question which asks, ‘if you intent to defend the divorce?' If you disagree with the divorce petition contents, then you get a chance to defend the petition by answering, ‘I do not admit to the charge of the wrong behaviour made against me'.

Defending divorce petition is filed when either of the spouses disagrees with what is said about them in the petition. Even if the contents of the divorce petition may seem unfair or exaggerated, some elementary legal advice will soon explain that it is not necessary to fall out over it and that in fact a divorce can go ahead by mutual agreement.

A defended divorce petition almost always makes it difficult for the parties to agree on anything. There are situations, where you have to defend the divorce petition. Factors of defending the divorce petition are:

  • Defending is a time taking action. If the respondent does not defend, then the divorce process gets finalized quite quickly.
  • Defending against serious and false accusation against the spouse. If petition contains such statements, especially if those are affecting arrangements made for any children or the financial/property settlement, then the respondent should defend as a reply to those accusations made.
  • Defending for the respondent to cross-petition. The respondent not only has a right to defend the divorce, but can also issue his/her own cross-petition, seeking the court for finalizing the divorce. For instance, suppose the petitioner states that the marriage broke down because of the respondent’s unreasonable behaviour, whereas the respondent thinks that it broke down because of the petitioner’s adultery.

Before you go to Court

Contested divorces can be expensive, lawyers are appointed by both parties to fight for the right in the divorce settlement. If your divorce is contested, it will centre on financial matters. As you are defending the divorce petition, you should carry documentary evidence as much as possible. Carry your bank and mortgage statements and correspondence that is relevant to your case. If the judge enquires for this information, you should have it readily available, so that it further enhances your case when you are in court. If you want to get an amicable divorce, then the very last thing you should choose is defending divorce petition.

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