I was recently served custody papers (5/17) and it says I have 30 days to respond but our court date is the first week of June. The court endorsement on the papers shows the other party filed the papers three weeks ago. Am I misunderstanding something here or did they not not give me the legal right to a 30 day response? And if not, what can I do about it? I have reason to believe their server may have fudged the paperwork as well. How can I get a copy of the proof of service to view what service date was put on the actual paperwork?
Family Law Attorney
The 30 days applies to the Petition (either to establish parentage, start a divorce proceeding, legal separation or annullment). The hearing date is to establish temporary orders. Even if they are filed at the same time it is quite possible that the hearing on the temporary orders will occur earlier than 30 days from the date of filing.
An Order to Show Cause (which is the request for temporary orders) must be served at least 16 court days prior to the date of the hearing (that excludes weekends, holidays and court furlough days). Your responsive papers must be served on the other party and filed with the court no later than 9 court days before the hearing. If you weren't served sufficiently in advance to give you those 16 days, you may ask for a continuance of the hearing. If you don't want a continuance (you may also want temporary orders), you should try to file and serve your responsive papers as close to the 9 court day deadline as possible and reference the date you were served in those papers so the Court knows the reason you are filing your own papers later than the law requires.