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Can the Divorce Court Enter a Default Judgment Even If You Have Children?


Most divorce cases do not involve the court ruling for one party and against the other.  In fact, in most cases, the parties reach an agreement about property division and parenting time during mediation.  When the case goes to trial and the judge must issue a decision about the points on which the parties disagree, the court’s decision rarely grants either spouse 100 percent of the things he or she requested in the divorce petition or the response to it.  The only case in which the court will simply grant your requests and sign off on your divorce is in the event of a default judgment, and those are quite rare.  A Boca Raton divorce lawyer can help you get a favorable outcome in your divorce, even though you probably will not get a default judgment.

Default Judgments in Florida Divorce Cases

In most cases, one spouse files a divorce petition to initiate the divorce proceedings.  The petition lists the filing spouse’s requests regarding property division and, in marriages where the couple has minor children, about parenting time.  A process server serves the other spouse with a copy of the divorce petition.  The spouse who receives the petition has a certain time to respond to it and list his or her own set of requests.  This is called a contested divorce, and the court documents refer to the parties as the petitioner and the respondent.

If one spouse files a divorce petition, but the other spouse does not respond to it and does not attend hearings related to the divorce, the court can issue a default judgment.  When this happens, the court grants all of the requests that the petitioner made in the divorce petition.

Parenting Plans Are About Children, Not About Being Right or Wrong

It is possible for the divorce court to grant a default judgment even if the couple has minor children; in this case, it uses the divorce petition as a basis for the parenting plan.  Remember that, even if the court based your parenting plan on a default judgment in favor of your ex-spouse, the guiding principle behind parenting plans must always be the best interests of the children.  If you think that the court did not award you a fair share of parenting time, you have the right to petition the court to modify the parenting plan.  The court bases its determination of children’s best interests on many factors, and it holds that it is in the best interests of children to spend adequate amounts of time with each parent.  This could mean that you and your ex-spouse will have to go through family mediation, and it may even require a trial.

Contact Schwartz | White About Co-Parenting After Default Divorce

A South Florida family law attorney can help you draft a parenting plan even after the court entered a default divorce judgment in favor of your ex-spouse.  Contact Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, Florida about your case.



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