California divorce law no response respondant

If your spouse ignores your divorce complaint, you can ask a court to issue a default judgment. In the divorce context, if you serve your spouse with a divorce complaint, and it goes unanswered, you can ask a judge to grant your divorce by default.

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To accomplish this, you'll need to prepare and file an affidavit with the court, to prove that you served the petition, and your spouse failed to respond. Once you show these two things, a judge can issue a default judgment, which may include all of the orders you requested, such as orders for alimony , child support, and property : If your spouse failed to respond to your requests, the judge will have no basis to deny them.

Once the court receives your request for a default, it will set a hearing date. At the hearing, you'll need to present your case. Depending on your state's laws, you'll probably have to let your spouse know about the default hearing. In New Jersey, for example, you have to legally notify your spouse of the hearing date and provide the details of your requests for spousal support alimony , child support, child custody, and marital property. Default or not, a judge is going to expect you to prove your case.

Divorce With No Children Path – Respondent

Let's say your reason grounds for the divorce is fault based, such as your spouse's physical or mental cruelty. You'll have to provide at least some evidence to back up your claim. If you can't, the court may not grant the divorce. Even if you based your case on "no-fault" grounds, such as a separation for a continuous period usually a year or so , you'll have to prove that you were living apart for that time.

California Divorce Timeline

Although you'll still need to show some evidence at the default hearing, it will be far easier than if you were appearing at a full-blown divorce trial. So you've had your default hearing, you proved your case to the judge's satisfaction, and you joyously walked out of court with the written divorce judgment clutched close to your heart. But a few weeks later, you get a letter stating that your spouse wants to reopen the case vacate or set aside the default. Although you can't imagine any judge would let that happen, they often do.

When this happens, the respondent can either ignore the divorce summons or file a response in which they agree to the terms. If the respondent ignores the divorce papers or chooses not to respond, the divorce will be considered a default. In a default, the request for the divorce and the terms proposed by the petitioner will be granted.


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The respondent will have lost his or her right to contest any elements of the divorce. While it is possible for spouses to agree on all aspects of the divorce from the very beginning, it is not particularly common. Most divorces are contested. When spouses have a contested divorce they must do everything in their power to negotiate the terms of the split privately.

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Courts have the authority to step in and make unilateral decisions, but are often hesitant to do so. In many situations, spouses are even required to attend mandatory mediation sessions to hammer out the details of a divorce. Courts will only step in if these good-faith efforts to negotiate are unsuccessful. Mediation allows spouses to retain complete control over decisions related to their divorce.

Arbitration is essentially a private trial. The terms decided by the arbitrator are final. Arbitration can be a great alternative to court because it is private, less-expensive, and generally less time-consuming.

Collaborative Divorce: Collaborate divorce is a great option for spouses who are committed to avoiding the court system at all costs. In this process, attorneys representing both spouses sit down and negotiate the terms of the divorce. Both sides may offer evidence and even present witnesses. Spouses must commit to resolving the split privately using collaborative divorce. If the process is unsuccessful, each spouse must hire a new attorney and start from scratch. Collaborative divorce can be great because it allows spouses to retain complete control over negotiations.

What if there are legitimate disputes about how terms of the divorce should be resolved?

How Do I File for Divorce in California | DivorceNet

When negotiations stall, spouses can turn to the courts for help. A family law judge will schedule a trial date and expect to hear arguments from both spouses. When a divorce goes to trial spouses lose the right to control the outcome. The decision s made by the court will be final and binding. Both spouses will be required to comply with those terms. Violating court orders, including those relevant to a divorce, can have serious legal consequences. The divorce process will officially end when a the time requirement has been satisfied and b all terms of the divorce have been finalized.

State law requires that the process take, at the very least, six months to unfold.

Responding to Divorce or Separation

The clock typically begins to run when the non-filing spouse is served. Finalized Terms: When spouses get divorced they must figure out how to divide one family into two. This can be time-consuming and stressful.


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  7. Spouses must agree about how assets and debts are allocated, who gets custody of the kids, and whether spousal support is necessary. A judge will not sign off on the divorce until spouses can prove that they have finalized all relevant aspects of the dissolution.