What Happens if I Don't Answer a Paternity Petition?

You're sitting at home when your hear a knock on the door. You answer it and find a guy handing you papers.

You've been served with a Paternity Petition. 

The first page of the papers is something called a Summons. The Summons tells you you're being sued for paternity. It also tells you that if you have been served for paternity in Utah, you must respond within twenty-one days. It goes on and tells you that if you have been served outside of Utah, you must respond within thirty days.

What happens if you don't respond?

The answer's pretty simple: you default. Losing by default in paternity is the same as losing by default in sports. If you don't show up, you don't play the game, and you lose automatically.

In paternity, however, the stakes are a little higher. Defaulting means your ex gets whatever he or she asked for in the Petition. If she asked for sole custody of the children, she gets it. If he wants you to pay all college costs for the kids, you pay. Whatever is asked for is received.

Don't default. If you do, you will regret it for the rest of your life.

Last Piece of Advice

If you can't hire an attorney or don't have time to right now, file an Answer to the Petition. If you file an Answer, then your ex can't default you and have bought yourself some time to hire an attorney. 

Simplest way to file an Answer is to deny every allegation in the Petition. All you have to do is write something like, "I deny every allegation and prayer for relief contained in Petitioner's Petition for Paternity."

This isn't the best way to Answer, but it will do in a pinch.

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