Answering a family case out of time

If the responding party lives in the U.S. or Canada, they have 30 days in which to respond to a family court Application once it has been served on them. The moving party, the Applicant, will file their affidavit of service in the court record confirming when the materials were served on the responding party.

If the Respondent fails to serve and file their Answer within 30 days after being served, then the case can proceed without any further notice being given to them- this includes any default orders which are made. The Respondent will only have notice once a default order is served on them. They won’t receive notice of anything the Applicant is submitting to the court in order to obtain the order in the first place.

In other words, if they don’t file an Answer, the responding party loses their chance to defend themselves and present their side of the story to the judge.

If you’re in a situation where you want to file an Answer, but won’t be able to within the 30 day period, you can either the ask the opposing party for their consent to late filing of the Answer, or you can bring a motion to a judge to get the deadline extended. Normally, another lawyer will consent to late filing because they know a judge will likely grant permission to a Respondent to file a late Answer.

Even though consents and permission for late filing can be obtained, you should try and minimize delay by proceeding to serve and file your Answer as soon as possible.