I received a civil summons for absolute divorce on 9/16/2013. My wife and I have been separated for a period of one year. At the time of separation, we came to an agreement on the distribution on assets. We have grown children (23 and 25). My question is: Do I need to respond to the summons? I need my wife to sign over several stock certificates and we may or may not have an issue with splitting a debt. Once the 30 day period of the summons/absolute divorce is over and the divorce is granted, is there any recourse on any issues/problems? Is there a hearing, or is the divorce just granted?
*** Not a lawyer ***
You don’t have to respond to the summons, but if you don’t then around October 16 she could ask for the divorce to be granted based on whatever is stated in her Complaint. If you don’t respond (and I guess if she’s not asking for anything besides the divorce judgement and to resume her former name), the divorce could just be granted. Or there could be a hearing.
You mentioned you came to an agreement, but you don’t mention if it’s a signed and notarized separation agreement or something informal. If it’s a signed and notarized agreement and it addresses those stocks and debt you should be ok as far as that goes, otherwise you lose the right to ask the court for distribution once the divorce is finalized.
If you have a fully executed separation agreement that is notarized, and your wife is complying with the terms, you may need to file a breach of contract action to enforce the terms. Read more about Breach and Enforcement of a Separation Agreement on our website. If you have additional issues regarding equitable distribution that are not covered by your separation agreement, and the agreement does not bar you from filing equitable distribution, you may need to file an answer and counterclaim for ED. Though this is highly unlikely, I mention it because if you do not have a full settlement or a claim pending at the time of divorce, you lose your right to file a claim for ED. You do not have to file an answer or otherwise respond to her divorce complaint.