Time to Answer: The delay to answer is 21 days from service. If no answer is timely filed, the Court takes the allegations of the petition to be admitted as true.
Preparing an Answer: One purpose of an answer is to admit or deny the allegations of the petition or motion. A well-written petition has numbered paragraphs that each assert a brief fact, and the answer will respond to each paragraph.
Asserting Defenses: An answer may also assert defenses that relate both to the behavior of the party who filed the petition and the party who is filing the answer.
An Answer Admits or Denies the Allegations in the Original Petition
One purpose of an answer is to admit or deny the allegations of the petition or motion. A well-written petition has numbered paragraphs, and each paragraph asserts a brief fact.
An answer responds to each paragraph of a petition with an admission or a denial. If the numbered paragraph is entirely true, the answer admits the facts of the paragraph. If the numbered paragraph is partly true, the answer can admit the true part and deny the untrue part. When nothing in the paragraph is true, the answer denies the paragraph.
Answers should be filed within 15 days of service of the petition or motion. If no answer is timely filed, the Court takes the allegations of the petition to be admitted as true.
An Answer Can Assert Defenses
When defenses exist, an answer also states the facts of the defenses in short and concise terms. Defenses are very fact-specific.
Some defenses relate to the behavior of the party that filed the petition. For example, say a petition states that a parent refused to allow the other parent custody on one day, which is true. But the petition does not state that the parent who filed it never asked for custody on that day, which is also true. Any facts omitted by the petition can be included in an answer as a defense.
Defenses can also explain the behavior of the party filing an answer. Some defenses are circumstantial. This means that the situation provides the reason the party filing the answer acted in the way they did. For example, if a parent is on their way to a custody exchange but gets into a car accident and cannot meet the other parent, the car accident is the reason the parent failed to arrive at the custody exchange and can be explained in the answer.
An answer must also include a prayer, which is a request to the Court for a result in favor of the party filing the answer.