What You Need To Know About A Default Divorce

Divorces are very emotional cases, and they sometimes can run for a long time before they are finalized. In some cases, one spouse may not take the divorce seriously, leading to a default divorce. This is a one-sided divorce case, and it almost always ends in favor of the plaintiff. You should seek advice from your divorce attorney on whether or not you should pursue a default divorce.

What Is a Default Divorce?

Divorce proceedings start with the plaintiff filing a complaint about divorce in court. The defendant is required to respond to the complaint within 20 days after receiving the complaint. If the defendant does not answer within 20 days, the plaintiff's divorce lawyer can ask the court for a default judgment.

When the court accepts the request for a default judgment, the plaintiff's divorce lawyer prepares a "Notice of Entry of Judgment" and sends it to the defendant. The plaintiff may get everything they asked for in the complaint. This includes child custody, terms for division of property, and alimony.

What Are the Benefits of a Default Divorce?

Many people use the default method because they don't have to pay court costs for appearing at trials. Additionally, this type of divorce does not involve lengthy hearings. Also, you may not be asked to produce financial information like tax returns, pay stubs, and bank statements. All of this information is required in a regular divorce.

In some cases, divorcing couples agree to pursue a default divorce. One spouse agrees to file a complaint, and the other agrees not to respond to the court can accept a default divorce. This allows the couple to settle their divorce issues out of court. As a result, the divorce is finalized confidentially and quickly without the embarrassment of public trials.

When Can the Court Set Aside a Default Divorce?

Your ex-spouse can file a motion to set aside the default divorce within a few months from when the default judgment was given. After the motion is filed, the court clerk sets a hearing date for both parties to present evidence. One of the grounds the defense can use for setting aside a default divorce is excusable neglect. This means there is a legitimate reason why the defendant failed to respond to the summons. Examples of excusable neglect include hospital stay, life emergency, or illness.

Another reason the defense can give for setting aside a default divorce is misconduct by the plaintiff. For example, the defense may claim that you misrepresented facts so they could believe that they did not have to respond.