12 STEPS OF DIVORCE: Step 2 – Responding to the Petition for Dissolution

12 Steps of Divorce - Andersen Law-2Former college buddies Art Aingel and Draco DeVille seemed to have less and less in common over the years — that is until they both found themselves on the receiving end of their respective wives’ divorce filings. Draco’s came first, so he was into the process sooner and had plenty of so-called “pointers” for his friend Art. 

The two met at the corner sports bar for wings and beer. Or, in the case of Draco, four Moscow Mules.   Art explained that he had agreed to waive service of process of his wife’s divorce papers. After receiving a request to do so from his soon-to-be-ex wife’s attorney, he met the attorney at her office, presented his driver’s license and, in front of the attorney’s legal assistant who was also a notary, signed for and received his copy of the summons and petition for dissolution of marriage. The only difference it made was that Art would receive the papers from the attorney instead of being served by a process server. It seemed to make practical sense.

“You fool!” Draco shouted. “I dodged service for three months, hiding out from the process servers. Showed her! Well, until I was called into court for intentionally avoiding service and had to pay her attorney fees. But still ….”

“Well, whatever you do, don’t hire an attorney,” Draco continued. “You can do this all yourself. Save a bundle. Or hire a mediator, which is the exact same as an attorney, but cheaper and, get this, represents both of you. Oh, and do not put in a response. Don’t have to! I just saved you about $199 in filing fees right there and all you have to do is buy the next round!”

Art was able to talk Draco into letting him drive home, the two of them returning to pick up the car in the morning. Fortunately, the next morning found Draco a quieter version of himself, a bit green in the gills, giving Art some time to think over Draco’s suggestion that he go the divorce process without legal help.

But Art did some of his own research online. This included visiting the Jefferson County Self Help Office where he received the form for a Response to Petition of Dissolution, which he could complete himself, forms for ominous sounding things like sworn financial statements and certificates of compliance. Art could not figure out why the court needed to delve into his private finances, but soon learned that this information was part of the process. Parties had to turn over this information to each other in order to calculate maintenance (sometimes known as spousal support or alimony), child support and division of property. Art had the feeling his wallet and bank accounts would be much lighter soon. He did not like the idea of paying an attorney on top of it.