What happens when a spouse ignores service of divorce papers?

On Behalf of | Jul 28, 2023 | Divorce |

The more emotional divorcing spouses become, the messier and more expensive the divorce process often becomes as a result. Many individuals filing for divorce in California wait with apprehension for a response from their spouse countering their suggestions related to property division, child custody and support matters.

In many cases, the spouse served with divorce paperwork will respond quickly and aggressively. Then, the spouses must begin negotiating or preparing for litigation in family court. Other times, the person served will leave their spouse waiting for weeks and may never respond at all. Under these circumstances, they may – very understandably – wonder if they have any options.

The filing spouse can request a divorce by default

Simply ignoring service with divorce paperwork will not prevent the courts from finalizing the divorce, but it will prevent the spouse who didn’t file from influencing the outcome. The California family courts can and very likely will grant a divorce to the person who files the initial paperwork even if their spouse never formally responds. The person petitioning for divorce will need to submit certain paperwork and proof of service to the courts. They can file the paperwork to request a default divorce 30 days after providing legal service of the initial divorce paperwork to a spouse.

Although it may feel anti-climactic to receive a technical divorce without any input from one’s spouse, someone who secures a divorce by default may be able to avoid the drama and uncertainty of litigation. Knowing what can happen after an initial divorce filing may help people feel more confident about moving forward in pursuit of a better future.