Many spouses refuse to participate in the divorce process after the divorce papers have been served. Whether it is because they do not want to get a divorce, they are upset that the divorce is happening or just want to draw out a bad marriage to make your life even more difficult, the worst happens. When this occurs, it may make your life harder but remember, you have the right to get a divorce and that option is always available to you in a bad marriage.
When your spouse refuses to acknowledge or participate in the divorce proceedings, you need to seek a default judgment. A default judgment occurs when one party refuses to answer the notice to your legal proceedings and does not respond or show up to court. When one party is granted a default judgment, it means that everything that they ask for is granted since the other party did not show up or respond to the legal proceedings.
If your spouse refuses to participate in the divorce process it both complicates and simplifies the process at the same time. On the one hand, if your spouse will not participate in the divorce process you do not have to engage in a lengthy period of discovery or fight with your spouse over contested issues like division of marital property. However, it complicates the process because the family courts look upon these types of cases with some suspicion and certain safeguard measures must be respected.
The first step to getting a divorce in any situation is to prepare and file your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. If your spouse will refuse to cooperate, you need to ensure that your petition is very detailed with what you are seeking and all the property and debts that must be divided in the divorce. If your original filing is not specific enough you may have to file an amended petition later.
The next step in a divorce is to serve your spouse with the petition. This can be done in person or via the mail. Proof of service must be filed with the court. You also must prepare and serve your financial disclosures on your spouse. This must occur regardless of whether or not your spouse responded to your initial petition and can be done at the same time you serve your spouse with your initial petition.
Once the 30 days pass without a response from your spouse, you may now file for a default judgment with the family court. Even once this petition for default judgment is filed with the court, it will still take time for the court to process your request, and you may be asked to testify before the court that all of your information is correct and that your spouse was notified of the proceedings and did not respond.
Failure to follow proper procedures can result in your divorce proceedings being delayed and prevent you from becoming legally free from your marital obligations. Therefore, when seeking a divorce, especially one with an uncooperative spouse, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced family law attorney. At the Law Offices of Charles D. Stark in Sonoma County, California, you can expect professional guidance on all of your divorce and family law needs. Contact our offices today to set up an initial consultation and learn what your best course of action may be, 707.527.9900.