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Child Custody | Family

What Happens If You Don’t Respond To Child Custody Papers?

6 min read
Philip Ahn, Attorney

by Philip Ahn, Attorney

If you fail to respond to child custody papers, several potential consequences may arise. Depending on your state’s laws, the court may enter a default judgment against you, meaning that the court will decide in favor of the other parent without considering your arguments or evidence. Additionally, you may be in contempt of court for not responding to the court papers, which could result in fines or other penalties.

Child Support And Custody

Child support and custody are two of the essential components of a divorce. Ex-spouses must pay child support under the state’s guidelines in many states.

The amount of child support depends on several factors, such as:

  • The income
  • Assets of each parent

Filing A Child Custody Petition

Filing a petition for child custody can be a complex process that requires multiple steps. Understanding all the forms and legal requirements involved when filing your plea is essential.

The child custody petition may have numbered paragraphs that outline the necessary specific information.

The court may require both parents to complete the answer forms if the children live with one parent. This form will ask questions about the arrangement for the children and how the other parent plans to support the children.

The other party can serve you with a complaint, and if this happens, you must file your response before the court date.

Getting A Fee Waiver

You may pay a filing fee to have your custody case heard in court. However, you may be eligible for a fee waiver if the filing fee presents a financial hardship.

A Default Judgment In Child Custody Papers Complaint

A default judgment in child custody papers is a court order which may be necessary when the other party fails to respond to the other’s legal action.

In a child custody case, the family court may enter a default judgment against the other parent if they do not file a response to the other’s initial petition.

Being served with court papers in a child custody case can be a very stressful experience, but you can answer using different papers.

The other parent may get sole custody if you do not answer the papers. In addition, not responding to the court papers could lead to a judge issuing a default judgment against you.

Responding To Child Custody Papers Complaint

If the respondent has failed to respond to a petition for children’s custody, they may be at risk of having the petition granted by default. To prevent this, the ex-spouse may choose to file a counterclaim.

The counterclaim is a document submitted in response to the initial filing that outlines why the respondent believes they should have primary or joint custody of the children.

Filing an answer allows the other parent to respond to what features in your petition. The answer should be filed with the court by the judge’s deadline.

The court will review both documents and decide based on what appears in each party’s pleadings.

If one parent served the other with a summons, they must answer it within 20 days. Failure to do so may result in that parent being in default.

A judge can allow you to serve a specific form to the other party, but you must file a motion and present your argument for why it should be allowed.

The courts require all documents be filed according to their specific instructions.

A process server may serve a legal form in a civil action

Paying a filing fee in court is part of the process.

You must fill out the form completely to ensure the court has all the necessary information.

You Have Been Served With A Summons And Complaint To Modify Your Child Custody Arrangement

Suppose you receive a summon and complaint to modify your child custody arrangement. In that case, you must take the necessary steps to understand the implications of this action in your child’s life and take proactive steps toward resolving your differences.

You must consult a qualified family law attorney or visit a legal aid office immediately. Your attorney can explain the terms of the summons and complaint and advise you regarding any legal options available.

Additionally, family law facilitators in the courts can file an answer about how to file a custody petition.

If a court enters a final order granting your motion, the court will issue an order that all parties to the case must get.

Serving The Other Party With A Summons And Complaint

You must show that you served the other parent per the service rules. You must prove to the court that you used a method of service that is legally acceptable and allowed by the court, such as regular mail.

It is important to note that it is up to the judge to determine whether or not your service was appropriate and sufficient for the case.

The person who filed the action is responsible for having the order served on all parties, and if this does not happen, the order may not take effect.

The courts can rule that the other party can be served in various ways, directly or through another person.

Financial Disclosure Form (“FDF”) In Child Custody Cases

Financial Disclosure Form (“FDF”) in child custody cases is often used to determine the financial issues of both parties involved.

The disclosure form includes information about both parties, such as:

  • Income
  • Assets
  • Debts
  • Expenses

However, you don’t have to include a personal asset. The form helps a judge determine child support, parenting plan, and visitation rights in a hearing.

You need to provide your three most recent paystubs and a statement from the other parent stating their income.

If the court requests, you may also need to provide additional forms, such as tax returns or bank statements.

All the parties should know the hearing date, and the other parent may have additional forms to fill out.

If you are unsure of your responsibilities for the hearing or what forms you need to fill out, you can contact the court clerk, and they should be able to answer.

What Occurs If The Respondent Fails To Submit A Response?

If a respondent fails to submit a response to a custody or paternity case, the plaintiff must ensure they follow up with them. The first step is contacting them and informing them of their response obligation.

If a respondent doesn’t respond, the plaintiff can file a motion for an order of default. The court will then enter a judgment in favor of the plaintiff without holding a court hearing.

Is It Possible For Me To File A Response If I Have Yet To Receive Service Papers In A Child Custody Case?

Yes, it is possible to file a response in a child custody case even if you have not yet received service papers. You should contact the court clerk and explain that you have not received service papers and request to be allowed to file an answer to your court case.

Hire An Unbundled Lawyer Before Responding To Child Custody Papers

You should act quickly and correctly if you receive child custody papers.

Failing to take the proper steps could result in losing custody or other negative consequences.

An unbundled lawyer can design a legal strategy to help you respond to child custody papers in the best way possible.

Compared to a standard lawyer, an Unbundled family law attorney’s fee is cost-effective and can range from as little as $500 to $1500.

Although Unbundled legal services may not be viable for all cases, they can provide affordable solutions for those seeking minimal family law attorney representation.

Contact an Unbundled lawyer today to learn your legal rights.

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