A default divorce is what happens when your spouse refuses to cooperate. It can also happen if you’re unable to find them. For whatever reason, they do not respond to the divorce petition and they do not come to court. This sometimes happens with estranged couples or when one person doesn’t want to get divorced.
A non-responsive spouse certainly sounds like it will make the situation more complicated, and it can. This is especially true if your spouse is intentionally avoiding the divorce in an effort to get you to relent and stay in the marriage. Some people believe that they can’t get divorced without cooperation – something that is simply not true. But, although it will make things more complex, it may also benefit you.
Your terms take precedence
The main thing to remember about a default divorce is that the court can still grant you your divorce without your spouse. They don’t have to be there. They certainly need to be informed about the case and given time to respond, which is fair, but they are not necessary for the proceedings.
The reason that they would come to court is usually to be a part of the negotiation process as you determine all of the terms. For example, they may want to have custody of their children or they may want to divide assets in a certain way. The court will make this decision, but it listens to your input and your spouse’s.
If your spouse doesn’t come to court, though, then the divorce may take longer. They are given certain deadlines by which to respond. However, when they fail to respond and the court eventually rules, your terms are going to take precedence over anything your spouse might have wanted. This can result in a more favorable outcome for you, even if it doesn’t happen as quickly or easily as you’d like.
Exploring your options
If you are going through a divorce that has gotten complicated for any reason, it’s time to explore your options and think about all the steps that you’ll need to take to protect your rights.