What is an Answer in a Divorce?
A divorce is a civil lawsuit filed by one spouse against the other, with the filing spouse making certain requests from the court. The spouse that files the divorce is called the Plaintiff, and they initiate the process by the filing of a document called a Complaint. It is in this Complaint that the spouse makes certain requests from the court, such as alimony, child support, determination of custody, allocation of marital debts, and the division of marital assets. This Complaint is similar to the filing in a personal injury case, where the Plaintiff asks the court for damages resulting from their injuries, but in a divorce the Plaintiff is asking the court to allocate and decide issues relating to the marriage. As in all civil cases, the divorce Complaint is served on the Defendant and they will have thirty (30) days to respond and file the appropriate paperwork with the court.
Once the Complaint is served, and the other spouse has been properly notified of the filing, the Defendant files a document called an Answer. The Answer is a response to the Plaintiff’s Complaint, denying certain statements and requests made in the filing and making counter-requests of the court. In a contested divorce, this Answer usually denies all of the allegations in the Complaint and makes counter demands. Also, in a contested matter the Answer is accompanied by a set of questions and documents to be produced by the filing party. Like any civil lawsuit, the parties make requests for documents, negotiate with each other over certain aspects of the divorce, and, if no agreement can be reached, they eventually have hearings to present evidence of their cases to the Judge.
In an uncontested divorce, the Answer still denies the allegations but also includes a clause waiving certain evidence requirements. This waiver is what allows the Plaintiff to give written testimony and have it submitted to the court instead of requiring such testimony to be given in open court in front of the court. This means that no hearing is required to present the evidence, since testimony can be written, signed, and submitted with the court addressing such things as the date of the marriage, date of separation, information about the children, and other such facts about the marriage necessary to receive a divorce. Also, since an agreement is reached in an uncontested divorce, the only necessary pieces of evidence are usually just facts about the marriage that must be proved in order to support the agreement, and they are proven by the Plaintiff’s testimony.
In an uncontested divorce, the Answer is pretty standard and its main purposes are to allow for the Plaintiff to give testimony without having a hearing and to allow for an agreement to be entered by the court. If you have any additional questions about the divorce process in Alabama, then give our office a call today for a consultation.