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Missing Response Deadlines May Lead to Default Divorce

Posted on in Divorce

Missing Response Deadline May Lead to Default DivorceBeing served notice of your spouse’s intent to divorce may shock and upset you. However, ignoring or avoiding the notice is never in your best interest. Failing to attend scheduled divorce hearings will not prevent your spouse from divorcing you. Instead, the court may grant your spouse a default judgment on your divorce. In a default judgment, your spouse will be able to dictate the terms of the:

A court will not approve a default divorce agreement that is clearly unfair to you, but the agreement will still favor your spouse. Your now-former spouse will be able to seize certain properties and possibly require you to make monthly support payments. You must respond to your divorce notice to avoid a disastrous default judgment. If the court has already approved the default judgment, you may be able to vacate the judgment.

Chance to Respond

Your spouse will not receive a default divorce judgment unless someone has served you a written notice of the court hearings or your spouse has made a good faith effort to find you. You will have two chances to respond. First, your spouse must send you a notice of his or her filing for divorce, along with a scheduled court date. You will have 30 days to respond after there is confirmation that you received the notice. Failure to respond or attend the court hearing will allow your spouse to request a default judgment on your divorce. Your spouse must once again serve you notice about his or her legal actions and your deadline to respond. Even if no one can confirm that you received either of the notices, your spouse can move forward with the divorce process as long as he or she:

  • Attempts to contact you at your known addresses and place of work;
  • Asks your family and close friends about your whereabouts; and
  • Has published the notice in a newspaper of record for the area of your last-known residence.

Vacating a Judgement

You have 30 days after a court approves a default divorce agreement to petition to vacate the judgment. However, you will need to present a convincing reason as to why the court should excuse you for not previously responding, such as:

  • Having been unavailable to receive or see the publication of the notice; or
  • Being involved in a medical or family emergency.

The steps your spouse had to take to receive a default judgment were meant to protect you. You will need to show extraordinary circumstances to vacate the judgment.

Facing Divorce

You should let the court know in advance if there are circumstances that may prevent you from responding to a divorce notice in a timely manner. A McHenry County divorce attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can request an extension on your deadline to respond. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.



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