When you are served you are given something called a citation. The citation will say the following:
“You have been sued. You may employ an attorney. If you or your attorney do not file a written answer with the clerk who issued this citation by 10:00 a.m. on the Monday next following the expiration of twenty days after you were served this CITATION, a default judgement may be taken against you”
The due date of your “written answer” is hard for law students to figure out, let alone those who did not attend law school. To be safe you should have an answer on file or hire an attorney within 20 days of receiving a citation. However, you should really start meeting with attorneys the week you are served so you are not in a rush to meet your deadline.
If you do nothing and do not hire an attorney or file an answer the opposing party and their attorney can walk into court, without your knowledge, and the judge will usually give them whatever they are requesting. In divorce cases that could mean the house, over half of your 401k, a visitation schedule that limits your time with your children or ordering you pay child support at a rate significantly higher than required by law.
Sometimes people get served by the Office of the Attorney General and think that if they ignore the citation nothing with happen because they are not the father of the child. This is not true. If you do not show up to court the Office of the Attorney General can assume that you are the father of the child because you didn’t come to court and you will be ordered to pay child support for the next 18 or so years.
Responding to citations timely and properly is a very important step in ensuring your case has the best fighting chance possible. At the Christiansen Law Firm we are accepting new clients and have experience helping people navigate the legalese of the courthouse and court documents. Call today for a free consultation.