Asked 10 months ago - Brandon, FLFlag
My wife has filed for a divorce, and I have not yet been served any papers, and she is refusing to give me any information about the contents of the divorce, nor will she give me any court dates for it. I received a pamplet in the mail saying that a divorce had been filed against me, that is how I learned of the divorce. I called the county court house where she filed, and they said that I would not be served. I am afraid that she has put something in there that I may not approve of, will she be granted what she is requesting if I am unable to sign, or attend court?
Not only are you entitled, it's mandatory. The caveat is that there are several different ways this can be done. You can be served personally, in some matters process can be served on another adult resident in your household, you can have an attorney accept service on your behalf and in some matters the petitioner can effect service by publication, (by publishing in a newspaper for 4 consecutive weeks). I would definitely contact the clerk for the court this matter was filed in to see if the matter is proceeding as though you've been served. You don't want to have a default entered against you.
If your wife filed for divorce I can only think of one way you would not be served and that is if your wife did not ask that a summons be issued and then for whatever reason failed to have you served. You must be served before the clock starts running against you. It would not surprise me at all if she "put something in there" you won't approve of. That's almost certain. But until you are served, it's not going to have much effect. Most people don't understand anything about this and have no idea what they're doing, but if I were you I'd get a lawyer to check into it anyway. Especially since divorce is imminent and you're going to need one anyway.
Important disclaimer: I'm not licensed to practice in Florida, so I can't give specific advice about Florida law. You should consult with an attorney licensed to practice in your state. This is just general discussion about common legal rules.
That said: every state, to my knowledge, follows the same basic principle: a judgment cannot be entered against you if you have not been served in some way. Before your wife could get any relief from the Court, she would have to show that she's at least made a good faith effort to provide you with the petition she's filed. For her to refuse to provide you with the petition is exceedingly counterproductive.
That said, you may as well go to your county courthouse and look up the case. Most states have decent (if very old) computer databases that can search for cases by the names of the people involved. Many county courthouses have help desks or clerks who can guide you through the process, if you're patient and wait in line (they're usually overworked and underpaid, so be nice). Once you get the case number, you can get the file, see everything in it, and prepare a response. You should have an attorney's help with this - some of the issues raised can be complicated, especially if you have any children together, or own any substantial property together.
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