What if a person fails to respond to divorce papers?
Many people think of divorce as a mutual agreement between the two parties to end what they consider an unhappy marriage. In reality, many people who are served with divorce papers don’t agree that a divorce is necessary and want to work on the marriage instead. This can be particularly troublesome if one of the parties is intent on staying married. When this is the case, the person who is served with divorce papers may fail to respond to the papers. What then?
If one spouse doesn’t respond to divorce papers, things become a bit more complicated. This doesn’t mean that the court won’t side with the party who filed and continue on with the divorce. It just means that the party who needs the response has other options.
Asking for a default judgment
The intention of not responding to the claim might be to delay the divorce or it could just be that the non-filing spouse is too upset to respond. Either way, if your spouse doesn’t respond to the divorce papers, you can ask the judge to go ahead and grant your divorce by default. It’s just like any other type of suit where one party doesn’t respond. The complication and inconvenience is that you’ll need a no default hearing.
Don’t be too afraid. A no default hearing just gives your spouse still more time to respond to the papers you served them with and answer all the claims within. If they don’t attend the no default hearing or represent themselves at all, then it’s likely that the judge will award your divorce by default and all of your claims and stipulations will be granted.
It’s not quite as easy as that, though. If you come to court to be granted things like alimony and child support, you’re still going to need a good lawyer on your side to make sure that all of your requests are granted. In other words, you still have to prove what you’re saying. Don’t get the idea that you can simply ask for anything at will just because your spouse isn’t responding to the divorce papers or planning to show up for the hearing. It’s up to you to prove your case from beginning to finish before the judge will grant your divorce requests.
After you’ve got your divorce petition granted, things can still get more complicated after that. Your spouse CAN request that the case be re-opened. To do so, they’ll need to give good justification for it. One such justification might be that they were never actually served with papers and had no idea that a default hearing was being conducted. In this case, you might have to go back to court to pursue the matter further, and no one wants that. Make sure that if you are granted a default hearing, your spouse knows the exact date, time, and location of this hearing. Your lawyer will make sure that you do this and that your spouse is fully informed of everything going on in the case.
It’s surprising how often a spouse will delay dealing with the legal requirements of a divorce. Often it’s a simple matter of being shellshocked and very emotional. Divorce is one of the single hardest things a person will ever have to endure in life. It’s not something they planned for or expected. For the spouse that doesn’t agree with the divorce, it can be tempting to delay dealing with it. As you can see, the consequences for this can be negative.
How do I get prepared for court if I represent myself?
You probably never imagined yourself getting a divorce when you got married. You were in love, you were happy, and this was the person you were spending the rest of your life with through thick and thin. Things change for some couples. Sometimes partners cheat. Sometimes kids change the dynamic and one partner can’t handle it. Sometimes you grow apart and no longer wish to remain a couple, but you do wish to end your marriage without any hard feelings or negativity. Whatever your reason for wanting to get divorced, you are free to do so if you please. However, you must decide how you want to do things.
Do you want to discuss divorce with your spouse? Do you want to file the paperwork and allow them to find out when they’re served by a process server? Does your spouse disagree and want to stay married, which only forces you to go through with the process on your own while they find any way possible to contest this? Whatever happens, you must also decide whether you want to hire an attorney or if you want to represent yourself in court. The decision is yours, but it’s one you must figure out on your own.
It’s cheaper, but it’s more difficult. If you want to represent yourself in a divorce, it’s up to you to gather all the necessary information. You must have your bank statements, your financial records, all your proof of things that your spouse has been accused of, and anything else that pertains to your case. If you have kids, it makes things more difficult.
If your spouse makes the decision to contest, it means you have more paperwork to file, court hearings to attend, and you must spend more time figuring out how to represent yourself. It’s not impossible, but it’s not always easy if your partner is not being amicable about this situation.
The best situation is the one in which you are able to represent yourself in an amicable situation. When you and your partner both agree on things in your divorce, it makes the situation much easier. This helps you decide how to handle the kids, the finances, and everything else. If you’re already coming up with a plan together, there is no need to hire attorneys to help you through the simple process of asking a judge to finalize the paperwork.
When to Call an Attorney
When the situation is bad and your spouse is contesting everything, you cannot agree on things, and even if your spouse hires an attorney, it’s better to hire one of your own. There is no reason to represent yourself when your spouse is coming after you. There is also no reason to represent yourself if you have a business or even considerable assets. Let an attorney help you.
You’re going to find it’s much easier to handle your divorce with an attorney when you have more to lose. Call an attorney with experience to help you through this process, but know it’s not required if you have no desire to do so. You can do it yourself, but the preparation can be difficult when there are issues in the divorce process.