What is a default divorce?

A default divorce is a divorce that is granted where the responding party never files any responsive paperwork.

The petitioner is the spouse who files the petition. The petitioner has to arrange for the other spouse to be served with the petition and summons. Then the other spouse, called the respondent, has the opportunity to file their response with the court. The response can state that the respondent doesn’t agree with what was said in the petition or it can agree.

After a petition has been served, the response is due within 30 days. If the respondent does not file their response by then, the petitioner can file for what is called a “default.” Sometimes people will also refer to a “default divorce” or “default judgment.” What this means is that since the court did not hear from the other side in the allotted time, the court will “default” to using the information in the petition as the basis for the judgment (or divorce decree).

Sometimes a default divorce takes place because one party is not interested in participating in the divorce and so does not file a response.

Sometimes a default divorce takes place as a way for the parties to try to save money by only paying for one set of filing fees. Those cases happen when the parties are in agreement as to how the divorce should be handled and are usually called a “default with agreement” divorce. Some parties will include all information in the petition and have that confirmed. Others will have a marital settlement agreement (MSA) or stipulated judgment. This is an agreement that resolves all issues of the case that is signed by both parties. There may be a few other forms that the respondent will need to sign as well. In these cases the petitioner will submit all the paperwork for a default with agreement divorce, along with the MSA. This method avoids the costs for the respondent to file their own documents with the court.

Is a default or a default with agreement divorce right for you? Contact Romanovska Law to learn more.


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