A ‘petitioner’ in a Divorce is the one who files for Divorce. In this case one spouse (the petitioner) will complete the information required on the ‘petition’. This is then filed with the court. Sometimes both parties file for Divorce and when this happens the first person who files will be designated the petitioner by the court.
There is no real advantage to being the petitioner. However, the person who wishes to be the petitioner should file the paperwork and complete the process in a timely manner. This is important in the event that the respondent (the other spouse) does not respond within the 30 day period. When this occurs, the petitioner would file a ‘default’ and follow the process to finalize the Divorce. When a ‘default’ is entered and there are no issues that need to be addressed, a court appearance is usually not needed. When there are issues, a ‘default’ hearing will be necessary.
Once the petitioner files the petition with the court, he/she will receive a case number. With this, the petitioner can now prepare the service packet which is needed in order to serve the other spouse. Essentially, service is a formal notification that a petition has been filed. Service can be made by mail, by another adult (not a child of the marriage) or by a sheriff or process server. The ‘proof of service’ is then filed with the court. Once served, the spouse has 30 days to file a response.
It’s always best to consult with an experienced Divorce lawyer in order to understand your legal rights and options. The Divorce process is complicated and not always intuitive. The staff at Legal Action Workshop can help you understand the Divorce process and what you can reasonably expect. In addition, our experienced divorce attorneys are ready to give you the confidential in-depth consultations that you may need.