Who is the plaintiff and who is the defendant in a divorce?

On Behalf of | May 31, 2024 | Divorce

When you are going through a divorce, understanding key roles can help clarify the legal proceedings. Knowing who the plaintiff and the defendant are is crucial for ensuring a smooth process.

The role of the plaintiff

In a divorce case, the plaintiff sets the legal process in motion at the courthouse. Here is what you need to know:

  • Filing for divorce: The plaintiff is the spouse who initiates the divorce by filing the necessary paperwork with the court. This action begins the legal process.
  • Setting the terms: In the initial filing, the plaintiff outlines the grounds for the divorce and their terms for settlement, which may include asset division, custody arrangements and financial support.

This proactive role requires careful preparation and a clear understanding of one’s objectives in the divorce proceedings.

The role of the defendant

Once served, the defendant must carefully consider their next steps. Their key responsibilities are:

  • Receiving the divorce petition: The defendant is the spouse who did not initiate the filing and receives the divorce petition.
  • Providing a response: The defendant has a set period – usually 20 days if served in person or 30 days if served in another way – to respond to the petition, either agreeing with or contesting the terms set by the plaintiff.

The response from the defendant can significantly influence the course of the divorce proceedings, especially regarding negotiations over asset distribution and custody arrangements.

Understanding your role

Understanding your role in the divorce process is essential to protecting your rights and financial interests, particularly when substantial assets are involved. You and your spouse should seek the guidance of an experienced legal professional to ensure the protection of your rights throughout the divorce proceedings.

At The Law Firm of Poppe & Associates, PLLC, our focus is relentless advocacy for our clients. If you or someone you know is considering divorce, reach out to schedule a consultation at 646-665-3903 or by contacting us online.

Let Me Be Your Brave

Mia Poppe, Esq.

Mia Poppe, Esq.
Managing Partner