Once you are served with divorce papers, if you want to file your own response with the Court, you have to meet specific deadlines.
Review your spouse's filing
Read carefully through the paperwork that you received, and make a note of anything that you disagree with.
In particular, look for a “Motion and Affidavit for Temporary Orders.” Temporary orders define what happens during the time it takes to finalize the divorce, including issues like child custody and visitation, child support, spousal support (or “alimony”) and how to divide your property and finances. If your spouse has filed this form, it includes the specifics of what they are asking the Court to order for temporary orders.
If you disagree with anything your spouse's Motion for Temporary Orders, you only have 14 days to file a response. Otherwise, you have 28 days to file an Answer. If you don't file an Answer within 28 days, the Court will consider the divorce to be "uncontested." This means that they will assume that you agree with everything your spouse included in their divorce filing, and will schedule a hearing to finalize the divorce about 6 weeks after you were served.
Filing an Answer means that the Court considers the case as “contested,” or challenged. The Court will set a meeting called a pre-trial hearing about 30 to 45 days after you were served. The Court’s Assignment Office will contact you about the time and location of your hearing.
If there are important reasons you need more than 28 days to file your answer, for example, you need to get a lawyer or you’re in the hospital, you can request additional time.
Decide how to move forward
There are some key decisions to make before you file the paperwork.
- Should you get a lawyer? A lawyer can help make decisions, file the paperwork and speak for you in court. If you and your spouse disagree on big issues, like custody, you may want to consider speaking with a lawyer.
- Will you file your own temporary orders? If your spouse filed a Motion for Temporary Orders, you can file your own Counter Affidavit for Temporary Orders if you'd like to request different orders. If your spouse didn't file for temporary orders, but there are temporary orders you'd like the Court to consider, you can file your own Motion for Temporary Orders.
- Do you want to file a “Counterclaim”? In addition to filing an Answer, you can choose to file a Counterclaim. In a Counterclaim, instead of agreeing or disagreeing with your spouse's statements, you can state information that is different from the information your spouse included in their Complaint. For example, you want to claim different grounds for divorce than what your spouse used.
Filing a Counterclaim is complex. There are legal implications of filing a Counterclaim that a lawyer can help you understand. You may want to speak with a lawyer before you decide to file a Counterclaim.
- Organizing your financial information. Filling out the forms requires a lot of information. Getting organized for your divorce will show you what you need. Since you are swearing that all your responses are true, you want to make sure they are both complete and correct.
Learn more about the steps in the divorce process.
Complete your paperwork
On this page, you can use the Divorce Answer Form Assistants to fill out the forms you need to file with the Court. The Form Assistants will ask you some questions, which you can answer on any phone or computer. It can take a few hours to complete all the necessary information. You will be able to save your progress and return to complete your forms if you need to.
- Once forms are completed, print them. You can print your forms at:
- Any Dayton Public Library Branch for 10 cents per page
- Montgomery County Law Library for 20 cents per page (the Law Library only accepts cash or a check as payment)
- After you print your forms, you will need to sign your documents in front of a notary. You can find a notary by searching on your browser for “a notary near me.” You can also wait to sign your papers until you get to the Court. The Court has staff who can notarize your forms for you.
- Drop off your completed, signed and notarized forms at the Court’s Compliance Office in Room 261.
- The Compliance Office will contact you after their review is complete. They will tell you if you need to make changes to your forms. Note: They usually contact you by phone, so make sure they have your correct phone number. If you need to make edits to your forms, they may ask you to come in to make the changes or may send you a letter describing the changes you need to make.
- If you need to make edits to your forms, read the letter from Compliance carefully and make the requested changes. Compliance allows you to make the edits directly on to the printed document by using white out and writing in blue ink the updated response or filling in ink a missing response. Do not cross out anything already on your forms, you must use white out to make corrections. You can also log back in to your MCDRC account and make the changes online and reprint your packet.
- After you make your changes, drop off your forms for review at the Compliance Office in Room 261 in the Courthouse. If you need to resign and notarize your forms, the Court has staff who can notarize your forms for you.
- Once your forms are approved for filing, you will get a call from the Compliance Office. Your forms will be available for pick up in the “pick up” bin at the Compliance Office.
- If you have questions, you can contact the Compliance Office at (937) 225-4782.
- When you pick up your forms, the Compliance staff will give you log-in information and direct you to a computer kiosk next to the Compliance Office. You will log-in and enter the basic case information into the Court’s computer system. This case information will be included in your printed packet of forms on the form named “Secondary Party Questionnaire.” Please refer to the Questionnaire as you enter your information into the system.
- Once you have submitted your Secondary Party Questionnaire on the Court’s computer, take your forms to the Clerk of Court’s Office. The Clerk of Court’s Office is located on the first floor in Room 104 of the Common Pleas Court Building, at 41 N. Perry Street. The Domestic Relations Court is connected to the Common Pleas Court Building through an indoor walkway, so you do not need to walk outside to get to the Clerk of Court’s Office.
- Give the clerk your forms to be filed. There is no filing fee to file an Answer, but if you are filing an Answer and Counterclaim, you will need to pay the filing fee at this time (unless you have included a Poverty Affidavit / Fee Waiver with your forms).