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What Happens if you Default in California Divorce Proceedings?

In the state of California, the divorce process begins when one of the two spouses files to dissolve the marriage.  The other spouse who did not file the dissolution paperwork must be formally served with divorce papers, with all rules for service of process followed.   Courts have become more lenient in terms of what counts as legal service of process, with the Washington Post reporting that a New York court judge has ruled recently that divorce papers can be served via Facebook.  However, even though the rules for how to serve papers have changed, the law still requires that the non-filing spouse be given notice of the divorce.

When the non-filing spouse receives notice that a petition to dissolve a marriage has been filed, that recipient spouse must respond to the petition and file an answer. If you do not respond by the deadline to file an answer, this can be considered a default in California divorce proceedings. You do not want to default because the divorce is going to move forward anyway even if you do nothing. Failure to respond will not stop the marriage from being dissolved; it simply means that you will lose your right to voice your opinion, make arguments, and have a say in how the divorce occurs.

Instead of defaulting in your divorce, you should contact an experienced attorney for help responding if a petition to end your marriage has been filed. The Irvine, CA divorce lawyers at Brown & Charbonneau, LLP can provide you with invaluable assistance in responding to divorce charges and in protecting your finances as well as your relationship with your children.

What Happens if you Default in California Divorce Proceedings?

The Judicial Branch of California indicates that a true default occurs when a spouse who is served with divorce papers does not respond and the couple does not have a written agreement in place dictating the terms of a divorce settlement. A true default in California divorce proceedings is considered to have occurred when there is no agreement in place and more than 30 days have passed since the petition and summons was served.

In cases of a true default, the spouse who filed for divorce will need to complete forms including a request to enter default, as well as a declaration for default.  Both a judgment form, and a notice of entry of judgment form, must also be completed.  There may be additional forms to fill out as well, including forms asking for a custody order, child support, spousal support, and forms related to the division of community property.

The court will review the forms and will then move forward to dissolve the marriage.  The spouse who did not respond to the divorce petition will lose the opportunity to make arguments related to custody, support, and how assets are divided.

At Brown & Charbonneau, LLP, we understand that you may not want the divorce to move forward or that you may be uncertain of how to respond when served with divorce papers. The key is never to default in California divorce proceedings. Give us a call and let us help you through this difficult time so you will have a knowledgeable Irvine divorce lawyer looking out for you.