File an Appearance Form
File an Appearance form (JD-CL-12) to tell the court that you are representing yourself. Although you may file an Appearance anytime before the final hearing, it is best to file it in person or by mail with the court clerk no more than 2 days after the Return Date.
The Return Date is in the upper right corner of the Summons form. The Return Date is not a trial date. No one has to go to court on the Return Date.
There are legal consequences to filing an Appearance. Once you file an Appearance you will receive court calendars and copies of papers filed in your case.
File an Answer and/or Cross Complaint
You do not have to file an Answer (JD-FM-160) to the Complaint, but if you do your Answer will tell the court if you agree or disagree with each numbered statement in the Complaint. There is no filing fee for an Answer.
You do not have to file a Cross Complaint, which is contained in either the Divorce Complaint (Dissolution of Marriage) (JD-FM-159), or the Dissolution of a Civil Union Complaint (JD-FM-159A), but filing a Cross Complaint lets the court know what you want. In the Cross Complaint you can ask a judge to end your marriage or civil union, give you alimony, child custody, visitation (also called parenting time, or access), child support, divide your property and debts, or restore a prior name. It also allows the divorce to continue even if your spouse decides to stop or withdraw the case. If you do file a Cross Complaint, make sure to check the correct box at the top of the form. The current fee for filing a Cross Complaint is $200.
Fill out your court papers and file them with the court clerk. Be sure to make a copy for yourself and send a copy to the plaintiff.
TIP: The Cross Complaint is the same court form as the Complaint. Be sure to check the box at the top of the form showing that you are filing a Cross Complaint.