“Default” is a scary word in the context of debt, but in family law, the fact that it is possible to get a default divorce comes as a relief to many people who are ready to move on after bad marriages. In its broadest definition, a default divorce is one where the court declares a marriage dissolved without both spouses appearing in court for a hearing. Some default divorces are the result of one spouse ghosting the other, while others happen simply because there is so little conflict that no hearing is necessary. To find out if you can or should get a default divorce, contact a New Jersey divorce lawyer.
When Your Spouse Refuses to Participate in a Divorce
In a divorce case, the person who submits the papers to file for divorce is called the plaintiff. It is the plaintiff’s responsibility to serve his or her spouse (the defendant) with the divorce papers promptly. The defendant must submit a response to the court within 35 days. If the defendant does not do this, the divorce case is in default, and the defendant may lose the right to object to any of the requests the plaintiff made in the divorce petition. The plaintiff can then request a default divorce judgment from the court; the plaintiff must do this no sooner than the response deadline. The plaintiff must also submit a written statement saying that his or her spouse is not in active duty military, because if they were, they would be exempt from the 35-day deadline.
Agreeing to Disagree
It is also possible to get a default judgment for your divorce if you and your spouse have already agreed on all the details of your divorce before filing your divorce papers. As long as you and your spouse have a written settlement agreement that addresses all of the issues stemming from your divorce, and as long as the written settlement agreement has both of your signatures, then at the default hearing, you can request that the court incorporate the written settlement agreement into the default judgment.
In other words, default divorce is a possible solution to being married to someone who will not give you the time of day even to acknowledge your divorce petition, but it is also a means of making a painless divorce even more painless. Even if you do not qualify for a default divorce, there are other ways to dissolve your marriage without going through an expensive trial.
Alternatives to Default Divorce
Litigation (a trial and the steps leading to it) and default divorce are not your only options. New Jersey also offers mediation for couples where the plaintiff and the defendant disagree. The parties meet with a mediator and try to reach an agreement that they then present to the judge. A mediator does not replace a divorce attorney; it is a good idea to hire a lawyer if you plan to go through mediation.
Contact Kelly, Kelly, Marotta & Tuchman, LLC About
Even if you think it is unlikely that your spouse will respond to your divorce petition, you should talk to a divorce lawyer before assuming that you can get a default judgment that grants all your requests. Contact Kelly, Kelly, Marotta & Tuchman, LLC in Maywood, New Jersey to discuss your case.