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What if a Spouse Doesn’t Respond to a Divorce Petition?

When one spouse in California files a petition for divorce, the other spouse must be formally served with papers. These papers provide notice that divorce proceedings are underway and give the spouse who receives the papers the opportunity to answer.  The responding spouse needs to file an answer with the court within the deadline. When an answer is received, the case moves forward.

In some cases, however, one spouse doesn’t respond to a divorce petition. A failure to respond will NOT stop divorce proceedings from moving forward, so you should not decline to answer simply because you don’t want a divorce. When a spouse doesn’t respond to a divorce petition, the person who failed to file the answer to the court will lose his or her rights to make arguments about property division, support, and child custody.

An Irvine, CA family lawyer will explain how the process of divorce will work if one spouse has not responded. Brown & Charbonneau, LLP can represent clients during a divorce where one spouse does not respond, and can also provide assistance to those who have received divorce papers and who are not sure what to do next. Call today to schedule a consultation and learn more.

What Happens When A Spouse Doesn’t Respond to a Divorce Petition?

When one spouse doesn’t respond to a divorce petition, the spouse who filed for divorce can move forward anyway. If more than 30 days have passed since the non-filing spouse was served with papers, this is considered a “true default” situation.  The spouse who has not responded has given up his rights to have a say in the divorce case. The other spouse can move ahead to get the marriage dissolved.

There are a huge variety of different forms that the filing spouse is going to have to fill out in the event of a true default where no response is received to a divorce petition. For example, the spouse who has filed for divorce and who wants to move forward is going to have to complete a request to enter default, which is found in Form FL-165 in California. The filing spouse will also need to file a form for a declaration for default, or uncontested dissolution or legal separation. The form for this in California is Form FL-170.  A form requesting a Judgment will need to be filed (Form FL-180) along with a form requesting Notice of Entry of Judgment (Form FL-190).

If the spouse seeking the divorce wants to enter a custody arrangement, is looking for support, or wants marital property and debt divided up, there are more forms to fill out. The California Courts website has a full summary of all the forms that must be completed in a default divorce if one spouse doesn’t respond to a divorce petition. The spouse who completes all these forms is likely to get the divorce agreement he or she wants, so the spouse that does not respond needs to know the tremendous risk that he takes by not arguing for his interests.

Brown & Charbonneau, LLP can assist with responding to a divorce or with completing a default divorce. Call today to schedule a consultation with an Irvine, CA family lawyer to learn more.