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“Don’t Ignore That Petition!”

By May 31, 2017 Posted in Articles


When a spouse decides that divorce is the option he/she is going to pursue, a consultation with an attorney is the initial step.  Numerous items are discussed during this initial meeting and paperwork is given to the individual to complete so that the necessary documents to initiate a divorce proceeding can be completed.  After receipt of the documentation, a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is prepared and reviewed with the initiating spouse.  The Petition is then electronically filed with the court, together with other necessary documents.

After completion of the filing, the next step is to get the documents to the non-filing spouse.  This can be accomplished through delivery of the documents by the sheriff to the non-filing spouse, delivery of the documents via a letter from the filing spouse’s attorney to the non-filing spouse enclosing the documents, or actual delivery of the documents to the non-filing spouse by the filing spouse.  

The non-filing spouse may have a range of emotions upon receipt of the Petition which can lead him/her to potentially ignore the documents received.  The documents specifically state that the non-filing spouse has 20 days to respond.  When that time frame is initiated depends greatly on the way the documents were received.  A lot can happen if there was proper service of the documents and the non-filing spouse does not respond to the documents in a timely manner. 

A recent case heard by the Iowa Court of Appeals describes what is known as a “Default Judgment” being entered against the non-filing spouse that did not respond within the allotted timeframe. A “Default Judgment’ means that, due to the failure of the non-filing spouse to respond, the court may enter a final order, known as a “Decree of Dissolution of Marriage”, granting any and all relief requested by the filing spouse.  Unless the non-filing spouse can show good cause as specifically provided for in the Iowa laws, the Decree will stand.  It is for this reason that the non-filing spouse should not ignore the Petition when he/she receives same.  

Should you require additional information on this topic, please feel free to contact Simpson Legal Group, LLC at (712) 256-9899.

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50 Northcrest Drive, Council Bluffs, Iowa 51503
Phone: 712.256.9899

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