This summons notifies someone that they need to file an answer within a certain amount of time. It’s usually 20 days. Sometimes it’s 30 days. For example, if it’s something done by publication, it might be that it has to be for example a response within 30 days. In limited instances, it might be 30 days, but usually in a divorce action, it’s 20 days.
Now, sometimes people get really, really freaked out because they look at the data on the filing of the petition and it might be 30 days ago and they’re wondering to themselves, well, what do I do if already past my deadline? The way it works is you have 20 days, not including the day of service from when you get it. If one is served by certified mail, return receipt requested, it’s the day one signed for it. If one is handed the document, you start the days from the day after you get it and you count 20 days forward.
If the 20 days happens to fall on a weekend or it happens to fall on just for an example, a legal holiday, then the deadline is bumped to the following business day. Overall, the summons is simply a document that requires one to file some sort of response. What happens is if one does not file a response within the necessary amount of time? Some bad things can happen. For example, one could get what’s known as a default judgment on a lot of the issues. Now, a divorce might not be granted, but there are some other bad things that can happen. One can get a default judgment and for example, might not get child support or might not get alimony or whatever they’re asking for in their petition, they might get all of it. It’s very important that one does their best to file within the specified amount of time.
Now, there are ways around it. There are ways to extend it. Usually, if one has an attorney, then there’s little tricks that can be done to extend the time period. Sometimes the court will excuse it if you have a very good reason, but if you happen to go past the time frame, just file an answer as soon as possible. Even if it’s not perfect, just get something in there. One is usually going to be better off responding with something versus not responding at all.