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What to Do if You’re Served a Family or Divorce Complaint

Has your spouse filed a property or divorce complaint against you? If your spouse has served you with a legal complaint, it's time to set up an appointment with a knowledgeable family law attorney. From the moment you are served a family law complaint, the clock starts ticking on the time you have to respond - and the deadlines are different for each type of complaint.

Picture of a couple at a family law attorneys office reviewing a divorce complaint

Deadlines and required actions vary depending upon what kind of family law or divorce complaint you have received, so it is important that you speak with an attorney as soon as possible to make sure you understand what you need to do next.

First Steps After Receiving a Family Law Complaint

First, in most cases, you will want to file a response to the family law complaint that you have received. Under North Carolina law, you have 30 days from the day you were served to respond to a complaint or you will be at risk of various consequences including a default judgment being entered against you.

You should typically consult a family law attorney or divorce attorney as a first step. This will help you understand what the documentation means, and what steps you need to take in order to address any claims against you. Having an experienced family law attorney on your side will help you move through this difficult process with confidence.

Requirements You Must Meet After Being Served a Complaint

Second, if the family law complaint has been filed in Wake County, North Carolina, there are additional requirements you must meet under the local Family Court Rules depending upon what kind of claim/claims has/have been filed.

For example, if your spouse has filed a Complaint for Equitable Distribution (i.e. property division), you are required under the local rules to disclose certain financial information and documentation to your spouse or spouse’s attorney within a certain period of time. In turn, your spouse must disclose the same type of information to you or your attorney.

The purpose of the disclosure rules is to encourage both spouses to be honest and open about all assets so that the most equitable division of property can be achieved. Exchange of financial disclosures is also required for several other types of family law claims such as Post Separation Support, Alimony, and Child Support.

Each type of family law complaint has different requirements that must be met - and each state handles family law in different ways. That's why our law office urges the recipients of a family law or divorce complaint to seek the advice and help of a family attorney.

Types of Family Law Complaints

As mentioned, there are different types of family law complaints your spouse can file against you. If your spouse has filed a complaint against you, it's of the utmost importance to seek legal counsel from a family law attorney to help you understand what each complaint means and how to handle it. From child custody and property division to name changes and emancipation, a family law complaint is a serious matter that must be dealt with immediately.

Divorce Complaint

It is important to note that if you and your spouse have not settled matters between you regarding issues such as property division and alimony, and you receive a Divorce Complaint from your spouse, you are at high risk of losing your ability to file any necessary marital claims prior to the entry of a divorce judgment.

Again, it is imperative that you seek the advice of a knowledgeable family law attorney once you have received any kind of family law complaint from your spouse. A divorce complaint can be catastrophic - especially if not responded to in time. Contact a divorce attorney in Raleigh today to address your divorce complaint.

Complaint for Equitable Distribution

When getting a divorce, the courts may decide it is equitable to evenly divide your property with your spouse. And since North Carolina is a no-fault equitable distribution state, this is mostly true. This means that property is divided equally between partners, regardless of fault in the marriage. If you want more information about this type of legal family complaint, contact our family lawyers in Raleigh.

Get Your Documents in Order

Additionally, there are certain documents that must be completed and submitted depending on the type of family law claim that has been filed.

For example, if the complaint contains a claim for Post Separation Support and/or Alimony, you and your spouse are both required to fill out Financial Affidavits. Financial Affidavits are documents that demonstrate your financial situation more fully in regard to your income, expenses, and debts. Under the local rules, there are deadlines for the exchange of Financial Affidavits, and the deadlines will depend on whether you are the spouse who is seeking support or the spouse from whom support is sought.

Family law claims and the local rules that govern them are complicated, and that is why it is so important for you to seek the advice of a family law attorney. Remember, once your spouse has served you with a Complaint containing a family law claim(s), the deadline clock begins to tick and it is imperative that you do not procrastinate when seeking legal assistance.

Contact a Raleigh Family Law Attorney for Support with Your Case

Being served with a family law or divorce complaint can be very disorienting and demoralizing, but you do not have to face it alone. By seeking counsel from an experienced family law attorney, you can achieve a more positive outcome. Contact our legal team at 919-301-8843 or by completing the online contact form.

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