The petition and summons are documents that are part of your divorce proceedings. If your spouse files for divorce, you will receive these.
The petition will provide you with a lot of information about the divorce. California Courts explain it gives you details you need to know to prepare your reply. The summons just tells you that your spouse is suing you for divorce.
The petition is incredibly important because it will explain what your spouse wants in the divorce. This may include property division details, information on child custody and support and a request for alimony. You have the chance to respond to the petition with a counteroffer.
You should respond to the petition and summons. If you fail to do so, your spouse can ask the court to decide the case. The court will likely give your spouse everything he or she asked for because of your failure to respond. You may hear this called a default judgment because the court only has one side present in court and sides with them. You have 30 days to respond to the petition.
Once you receive your petition and summons, it also acts as notice that you cannot do certain things. You cannot do anything with your assets, such as selling them. You also cannot make changes to accounts or beneficiaries. This also is notice that you cannot leave the state with your children.
When you receive a petition and summons, you need to read the documents completely. They contain important information. Even if you and your spouse already have an agreement in place, make sure to review these documents.