What is a Divorce by Default?

There are several means by which spouses in California choose to divorce. Some of these are by agreement, while others employ the assistance of third parties or the court to resolve marital disputes. In a divorce by default, the spouse who files for divorce serves or attempts to serve, the other spouse with divorce papers, and the other spouse fails to file their required response with the court.

The non-filing spouse may not file a response for any number of reasons.

They may:

  • Choose not to cooperate with the divorce procedure;
  • Prefer to ignore the divorce; or
  • Be unaware of the divorce filing altogether.

How Long Does the Non-Filing Spouse Have to Respond?

In California, the deadline to respond to a divorce petition is thirty days from its receipt. After thirty days, the petitioner may proceed with the divorce without any intervention from the respondent.

What If the Respondent Evades Service of the Petition?

It is possible to get a default divorce if the petitioner does not personally serve the respondent. If the respondent evades the process server to delay or prevent divorce, the judge may allow the petitioner to serve the respondent by an alternate method.

The judge could permit the petitioner to serve the respondent by publication in the newspaper or through certified mail. If the respondent continues to ignore or evade service, the default divorce process will continue. The petitioner will receive the divorce according to the requests in the petition.

Are There Advantages to a Default Divorce?

There are advantages and disadvantages to a default divorce. A default divorce can save the petitioner time and money. There are no contested hearings or lengthy trials.

The petitioner will not have to produce financial information or any other documentation for the respondent or the respondent’s attorney. The divorce process will not require excessive time away from work or children.

However, there is a possibility that the respondent will regret their decision to permit the default divorce or honestly discover that the default occurred. The respondent could then request the court set aside the default divorce judgment and rehear the case.

What to Do If You are Served a Default Divorce

Always answer a divorce petition within the required thirty days. If you miss the deadline, you could relinquish your legal rights and allow your spouse to receive a default divorce. This means you will have no say in any property division, child custody, child support, or spousal support arrangements.

If you are served a default divorce, act immediately. Retain an experienced San Francisco divorce attorney and, if possible, ask the court to set aside the judgment.

In situations where too much time has passed to set aside a default divorce, there are some issues in a divorce judgment that is modifiable. These typically include child custody, child visitation, child support, and spousal support.

Contact an Experienced California Divorce Attorney

If you are considering a default divorce in California for any reason, contact the experienced divorce attorneys at Moradi Saslaw. It is imperative you seek seasoned legal advice before pursuing or accepting the terms of any default divorce.

Know your rights and options as you move ahead with your divorce. Call Moradi Saslaw today to schedule a confidential consultation with a skilled divorce attorney.