Our case was originally dismissed by a judge in July 2010 for “lack of service.” However, I received my copy of the petition from her lawyer last week. By signing for the papers, does that start my 20 days to file the answer? If I file an answer, will that reopen the case? Does her lawyer need to file anything to reopen the case?
My wife filed for divorce in November 2009 (we have one minor child). She has no money and is being represented by a pro bono lawyer. I also have no money and was planning on representing myself.
I told her lawyer that it was not necessary to spend money on serving me, that I would accept the papers via the mail, and that I would file my answer immediately. I never received anything in the mail, nor was I served. Our case was dismissed shortly afterwards.
Divorce / Separation Lawyer
You should speak to the clerk's office in your county to determine if your divorce case is still active.
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Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have determined that the case was dismissed in July and it was under the same case number, then it appears that your wife's lawyer has mailed you a petition that is no longer valid. Since you were not served, your failure to answer the petition within 20 days does not create a situation where you can be defaulted. It appears from your question that you are interested in moving the case forward, so it may be best to contact your wife's lawyer and discuss the current status of the case with him. He may be unaware that the case was dismissed, and can take steps to re-file the petition.
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