When your spouse has someone serve you with a divorce petition, there are many ways that you can react. Whether you're surprised by this development or you perhaps saw it coming, you have the ability to answer the petition in a manner that suits you. Answering it agreeably is often a good idea, as it can make for a divorce that is quick and relatively easy for both of you. You shouldn't automatically answer the petition agreeably just as a way to prevent acrimony, however. This is a time that it's necessary to look out for your best interests, so hire a divorce attorney to evaluate these details.


Check what the divorce petition states in terms of fault. It's possible that the petition will deem your divorce to be a no-fault situation, which is ideal. However, it's also possible that the petition will identify a cause of the divorce and stipulate that you're at fault. This might be the case if you had one or more incidents of infidelity, for example. Agreeing to a divorce petition that points fault at you can be a bad decision, because you're essentially putting yourself at a disadvantage when it comes to dividing property and even determining the custody of your children.

Interim Terms

A good divorce attorney will work hard to reach favorable terms for your divorce, but before this happens, you'll need to evaluate the terms that the divorce petition brings up. Often, it will include things such as asking you to avoid making large purchases — as this can unnecessarily complicate the division of assets — or taking your children across state lines. If you're OK with these temporary terms, you can respond to the petition agreeably. However, if even a single term doesn't work for you, consult your attorney.

Presence Of A Restraining Order

Sometimes, the divorce petition will lay out the terms of a restraining order. This is often the case is abuse or threats of abuse have been present in your relationship. It's critical for you to follow the terms of this order, so don't respond agreeably to the petition if there's anything that doesn't work for you. For example, if you're co-parenting your children and you feel as though continuing to do so with a restraining order in place would complicate your life and your spouse's life unnecessarily, as well as the lives of your children, your attorney may want to take immediate action on your behalf.