What is a Default Divorce?


Default divorces usually occur when the person who initially files for divorce (the Petitioner) does not receive a response from their spouse (the Respondent) within the statutory deadline. In California, the deadline for filing and serving a Response is thirty calendar days. “True defaults” are when thirty calendar days have passed since the Petitioner served the Petition and Summons on the Respondent, and there is no written agreement between the two spouses.

Once the thirty calendar days have passed, the Petitioner must request the Court enter default for Respondent. The Petitioner additionally files the judgment for dissolution and other requisite forms to become officially divorced. Once a default has begun, it becomes increasingly difficult for the Respondent to participate in the case, but not impossible. When in default, you are unable to argue to the Court on issues such as child custody and visitation, child and spousal support, and property division. However, Petitioner can’t request the Court give them 100% of community property and a blanket $100,000,000 in support without justification. The Court is still bound by the law, including statutes for community property and Family Code Section 4320, factors for permanent spousal support.

The pros of a default judgment are many. If you retained an attorney, you spend less on attorney’s fees and costs with fewer court appearances less time spent on litigation. Additionally, the process is usually less complicated and faster as defaults generally require fewer hearings, less disclosure, and service of financial documents, such as the Preliminary or Final Declaration of Disclosure.

The cons of a default divorce are few. Once you begin the process, the Respondent may attempt to respond, and if the Court allows it, then all the work is wasted. The Respondent may also request the Court “set aside” the Default Judgment because of issues in various statutes. Subsequently, the divorce process begins anew.

As always, having an experienced family law attorney by your side will help protect your rights, determine if a default divorce is in your best interest, and assist you in navigating your divorce. To schedule a consultation with an experienced attorney, visit our Contact Us Page or call us today (888) 851-1611.

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