If you are served with a complaint for divorce, you should see an attorney. An attorney can help protect your rights, fight for your wishes, and help guide you through the divorce process. An attorney can help you file responsive pleadings, get the most out of your discovery requests, and strategize about the best approach for your individual needs.
In Virginia, you have a limited time from the date you are served with the complaint to file your responsive pleadings. Although you do not have to file a responsive pleading, i.e. an Answer or Counterclaim, to a complaint for divorce, it is often beneicial to do so in order to preserve your rights. Some of the scenarios in which you may need to file a responsive pleading are if: (1) there are minor children born of the marriage and their custody, visitation, or support is in dispute; (2) there are marital assets or debts that need to be divided; (3) you wish to ask for spousal support; and/or (4) your spouse has filed for divorce on a fault ground.
Additionally, if you believe that there will be a dispute over the division of assets, you may want to begin gathering financial documents once you receive the complaint for divorce. Keep these documents in a safe place that is accessible only by you. These financial documents will be useful in helping you and/or your attorney determine what marital assets exist. — By Kari Jackson, Associate at Hall & Hall