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The Default Divorce Option

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When a couple parts ways, the legal process can vary. Divorce by default is probably one of the easiest ways to divorce since it only requires one party's actions. To find out more about this way of divorcing, read on.

The Divorce Process and Default

As the name might suggest, default indicates more a lack of action than action itself. Once you have legally informed your spouse about your plans to divorce them (using a process server), they should respond. If they fail to do so, they are, in effect, agreeing with all the provisions of the divorce paperwork (the petition or complaint). Unless your spouse enters an answer challenging the complaint, the divorce will move forward without their input. It should be noted that if you cannot locate your spouse, a default divorce can also be granted as long as efforts are made to find them and sufficient time has passed. If your spouse comes forward at any time before the final ruling is made to protest the divorce or any provision therein, a default divorce won't happen.

Default by Design

A divorce by default should not necessarily be considered a negative outcome. You and your spouse are free to form a divorce agreement together that you both feel good about, file it with the court, then allow the divorce to be granted by default. Regardless of the way it's achieved, it's still a legal divorce. Another way of approaching this issue is to file for an uncontested divorce. If you both agree on everything, an uncontested divorce is quick, inexpensive, and easy to obtain. Depending on the laws of your state of residence, the difference between a divorce by default and an uncontested divorce might come down to cost, time, and the paperwork involved. Speak to an attorney (you must each have your own attorney) for more localized information about these choices.

Motion for Default

Regardless of the way you arrive there, the filing spouse should file a motion for default when the spouse fails to respond to the complaint. Each state will be different, but you might need to wait about 30 days or so after the papers have been served to proceed. In most cases, the deadline for responding is noted within the served complaint. This hearing is quick and uncomplicated and you will leave the courtroom with a divorce that is legal and final.

To find out more about divorce by default, speak to a divorce lawyer.