After the divorce petition/complaint is filed by the petitioner and served, the other spouse (the respondent or defendant) must respond within a certain period of time (usually three weeks).
The response acknowledges that the respondent's received the divorce petition/complaint, and states either agreement or disagreement with it.
The respondent's answer must clearly state his or her position on the allegations and proposals found in the divorce petition/complaint. This includes information about the their marriage, the requests for child custody, property division, and support. Agreement or disagreement with the information and demands contained in the petition can usually be stated on a court form by simply checking boxes labeled "admitted" or "denied," in sections that correspond with the statements or demands made in the petition. There is also room for explanation or the demands of the respondent.
In the event that the respondent fails to answer, the court will assume that he or she agrees with it and a default will be entered for the case, which means that by failing to answer, the respondent has waived his or her right to argue.
The respondent is able to request the court to remove the default so that the divorce can be contested, but must be able to establish legal justification for the court to grant such a request.