Sunday, January 22, 2012

Free Original Answer / General Denial

If you have been sued or served with papers in a divorce case or another type of family law case, you must file a document called "Original Answer" within about 20 days. (It's actually 20 days from when you were served plus the following Monday.) Some attorneys refer to the Original Answer as a "General Denial." Both terms are accurate.

If you do not file an answer by the deadline, the court can render a default judgment against you. That means that if you do not file your answer on time, the other side can get whatever they asked the court for to begin with. There are ways to get out of that mess if you find yourself defaulted, but you have to act quickly, hire a good family law attorney, and hope for a merciful judge.

Rather than leave it to chance, just file your answer on time. It's very simple.

  1. Draft an original answer. You can get a form from the county law library or you can generate a free form on my family law web site:
  2. Once you draft the document, print 3 copies and sign each one.
  3. Take all three copies to the district clerk's office. The address will be on the front 1 or 2 pages of the papers you were served with.
  4. Hand all three copies to the clerk. The clerk will filemark all three and give two copies back to you.
  5. Keep one of the copies with your papers.
  6. Mail the other copy to the address shown at the bottom of the pleadings you were served with.

Above all, file your original answer--even if you are past the deadline. There's no reason not to file an answer when the stakes are so high and a free original answer / general denial form is just a click away.

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