What is a Default Divorce & How Will it Affect You?

Whether you and your soon-to-be-ex partner agree on most matters in your divorce process or not, your hopes for a fast divorce can easily fade when the other party stops responding. While you may or may not expect them to ignore you personally, it is uncommon for someone to stop responding to divorce lawyers, attorneys, or court appearances entirely. When you’re waiting around for the other party to respond, it’s easy to imagine this carrying on forever, but you’re in luck, because a default divorce is the failsafe to help you out of your ex’s radio silence.

What Exactly is a Default Divorce?

While the phrase “default divorce” may sound like you’re pursuing a divorce without any special requests or changes to the process, the true definition is quite far from it. A default divorce is the term used in scenarios where one partner doesn’t respond to correspondence in the allotted amount of time or doesn’t attend court hearings where their appearance is mandatory. Specifically, the unresponsive party is the one considered “in default,” not the divorce itself.

Unlike the other types of divorce you may experience, the presiding judge will often grant the requested divorce and associated factors to the party in attendance. However, the defaulted party has the ability to appear later on in the case and ask the Court to undo the previous default judgment so they can argue their side of the divorce case.

When Will the Judge Declare a Default Divorce?

Ask any Albuquerque divorce attorney, and they’ll tell you the same thing: every divorce is different and a variety of factors including the assets, presence of children, and time of year can affect the timeline of the divorce. While a fast divorce is typically ideal, it may not be possible in every situation. In all divorces, the respondent has a set amount of time to respond to the divorce petition: 30 days, which is technically 33 days based on certain rules. If the Respondent does not participate or respond to the divorce within that timeframe, you may seek a default judgment against them.

What is Finalized with the Judge’s Decision?

When one partner hasn’t responded within the allotted time, a judge will often rule in favor of the present partner, finalizing a variety of aspects of the divorce at the same time. This often includes:

  • how property and assets will be divided (i.e. real estate, tangible assets, etc.)
  • the amount of alimony to be granted
  • the terms of the child custody arrangement
  • the amount of child support to be paid
  • Any other requests you may have

While this initial decision may be in one party’s favor because they are the one that filed the suit and the other party failed to defend against the suit in the applicable time period. A default judgment is eligible for reversal if the previously unresponsive partner files a motion to have it “set aside.” From there, it’s up to the Court to decide if the default and its associated decisions will be upheld or if it will hear the other party’s testimony and potentially change the terms of the divorce. It is overwhelmingly likely the Court will allow the defaulted spouse to set aside a default judgment and defend against the suit even if it takes them some time to get involved in the case.

Is There Anything You Can Do to Avoid a Default Divorce?

Working with a knowledgeable Rio Rancho divorce lawyer will help you understand your role, your responsibilities, and the importance of your active participation in the divorce process, so you can ensure you’re not the party causing the default. Timelines are important and adhering to them will ensure you are not deemed the defaulted party.

If you are ready to start the divorce process or you’re looking for representation to ensure fast divorce proceedings, consider connecting with the Law Office of Dorene A. Kuffer. Our team of Albuquerque divorce attorneys and Rio Rancho divorce lawyers have the experience and compassionate approach you need to work toward the best outcome for your case and your new life. Contact our office today to learn more and navigate your potential default divorce today.