Quick Tip: Make Sure to Read Your Legal Paperwork

September 7, 2012 - by Eric Anderson

I often get calls from people who have received legal paperwork of some kind.  The paperwork ranges from divorce papers, child support motions from the county, parenting time motions, custody motions, spousal maintenance motions, etc.  Unfortunately, the person did not call an attorney upon receiving the papers, but waited weeks before deciding to act.  Maybe the person did not want to deal with the issue and did not even look at the papers for some time.  This can be a big problem because there are very strict deadlines and procedures that often need to be followed.  If you do not follow the correct procedures along the correct timelines, you can severely limit your options for response and relief.

For example, in Minnesota you have 30 days to serve the other party with a formal Answer if you've been served with a divorce petition.  The Answer must be in a specific format and served in the correct manner.  Failure to follow these rules can result in a default divorce, i.e. the initiating party can obtain a divorce on the terms of their choosing without any input from you.  All of the above types of paperwork and motions state the deadlines right in the paperwork.  Aside from timelines, the paperwork usually describes the procedure that must be followed to respond, as well as contact information for the relevant parties.  The paperwork sometimes also describes different options for response.  

The lesson here is to read any legal papers you receive.  Read them right away.  Read them carefully.  In Minnesota, parties to a legal action that proceed without an attorney are expected to know all the rules of court procedure.  If you have questions about the papers or how to respond, contact an attorney right away, so that you can determine what action you need to take.  

Disclaimer: No case or client-specific information shall be discussed on this website. The content provided is informational only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have questions about divorce or custody in Minnesota , please seek the advice of an attorney.