Following the filing of a marital dissolution petition with the court in New Jersey, the spouse seeking the divorce -- who is known as the petitioner -- ensures that this petition is legally delivered, or served, on the other party. Then, the spouse who is being served has to respond to this divorce petition during a certain time period. This other spouse is legally known as the respondent.
A divorce is essentially a lawsuit, so the person being served is technically being sued. The allegations contained in the petition typically must be responded to in about 30 days. Otherwise, the respondent will not have the right to argue his or her position about matters such as child custody and property division.
In the answer, the respondent needs to clearly communicate his or her stance on the proposals and statements of the filing spouse. These include statements about the marriage and the spouses, as well as requests for spousal support, child custody and property division. For instance, if the petitioner wants sole physical custody of the children, the respondent may choose to deny this and make a new custody demand according to his or her own wishes.
Navigating the divorce process in New Jersey can understandably be confusing and overwhelming. This is especially true for those for whom getting divorced is their first experience with the legal system. An attorney can offer guidance during each step of this multifaceted process and help with pursuing a resolution that is personally favorable in light of the circumstances surrounding the marital dissolution.
Source: findlaw.com, "Answering the Divorce/Dissolution Petition", Accessed on April 29, 2017