When you file a lawsuit in any civil court case the opposing party must respond to your demands. A divorce is no different. If you file a petition for dissolution of marriage (also known as divorce) your spouse has 30 days from the date of which he/she has been served divorce papers in order to file a response.1
The same is true for paternity cases. When the parents of a child are not married, but visitation, custody and support issues are involved, the opposing party has 30 days to respond after being “served”. So what happens if the other party does not respond? If an opposing party does not respond within 30 days of being served, then the party who filed may ask for a default judgment.
What is a Default Divorce Judgment?
In California, either spouse can decide to end their marriage. It is not necessary for the other spouse to agree. The spouse who does not want to get a divorce cannot stop the process by refusing to participate in the case. Non-participation will just lead to a “default” judgment, not to a dismissal of the divorce request.2
Cases Involving Unresponsive Parties
If the opposing party fails to file a response within 30 days after being served, you can file a request for entry of default with the court. Entry of default is important because it acts as a huge roadblock for the respondent. A default judgment causes the respondent to lose their right to respond to the petitioner’s requests for orders. Instead, the respondent must first convince the court to set aside the default. If you have filed for divorce and the respondent has not answered, you should consult with a knowledgeable family law lawyer to help you close off the respondent’s opportunity to be heard by requesting a default judgment.
You will still have to submit documents to the court to obtain a final judgment. After that, you must wait six (6) months from the date that the other party was served, before the divorce can be deemed final, pursuant to the waiting period outlined in the Family Code Section 2339.
30 Day Wait Period for a Response
The first step to getting a default judgment is waiting thirty (30) days after serving the divorce papers to the other party.
Disclosure of Marital Assets and Debts
If the other party does not respond, then you must file an Income and Expense Declaration form (FL 150) along with either the Property Declaration form (FL 160) or the Schedule of Assets and Debts form (FL 142) to the court. These forms are used to determine marital assets and property for the purposes of the divorce.
These forms may be filed with the court prior to the expiration of the 30 day window for the response from the opposing party. This makes it so you can actually obtain a default judgment right after the thirty (30) day wait period for response has elapsed.
Request to Enter Default
Once the 30 days have passed without a response and the appropriate income and expense forms have been filed with the court, you may fill out a Request to Enter Default form (FL 165). The court will then send a copy of the form to the other spouse
Once this has been completed, the default divorce will be granted as long as you complete all necessary steps for obtaining a default divorce. However, the parties are not yet considered divorced at this point.
In order to get a finalized divorce decree, the parties must first comply with the waiting period. According to Family Code Section 2339, the parties must wait six (6) months from the date of the petition for divorce has been served to the other party. Additionally, the court has the discretion to extend the six (6) month waiting period if there is good cause to do so.3
Call Wallin & Klarich Today
At Wallin & Klarich, we understand the difficulties you may encounter in filing for divorce. We know how troublesome it can be to figure out whether you qualify for a default judgment. For these reasons, it is crucial that you seek the assistance of an experienced family law attorney immediately. Our knowledgeable attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience successfully helping our clients with default divorce requests. Let us help you today.
With offices located in Orange County, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Torrance, Riverside, West Covina, Victorville, Ventura, San Diego and Sherman Oaks, our knowledgeable attorneys are available to help you no matter where you are located.
Call us today at (888) 749-7428 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.