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Default Judgments in Florida Divorce Cases


Can you still divorce your spouse if your spouse does not want a divorce?  What about if your spouse simply abandoned you and cannot be contacted even to receive the divorce papers?  In both of those cases you can.  Whether your spouse is simply in denial about the fact that your marriage is over or has simply skipped town, you can still file for divorce, and the court can still dissolve your marriage.  This is called a divorce by default.  Even in the case of default, though, both parties still have rights, especially as regards their roles as parents to minor children.  If the court entered a default judgment in your divorce, or if your spouse refuses to respond to your communications about your impending divorce, contact a South Florida divorce lawyer.

How Does the Court Arrive at a Default Judgment in a Divorce Case?

When you file a divorce petition, you are obligated to serve your spouse with a copy of the petition, which often involves having someone deliver the papers to your spouse in person.  The petition lists your requests about terms of the divorce, including but not limited to property division and parenting time.  Your spouse must respond to the petition within 20 days.  In the response, your spouse may list their own requests, and if the parties cannot agree on their own about how to reconcile their conflicting requests, the case then goes to mediation or trial.  If your spouse does not file a response by the deadline, you may request that the court issue a default judgment.  In a default judgment, the court simply signs off on the terms you listed in your divorce petition and declares your marriage officially dissolved.

Default Divorce and Families with Minor Children

Whenever the parents of minor children divorce, the court must consider the children’s best interests first and foremost.  Every child whose parents are not married to each other is entitled to a parenting plan determining parenting time and other non-financial considerations related to parenting.  Even if the court enters a default judgment in your divorce case, both parents have a right to have a say in the terms of their parenting plan.  Parents may specify their requests about which days to spend with the children and about which parenting decisions the parents may make separately from each other and which parent has the final say in each decision.  They can even be as specific as alternating years as far as which parent is with the children for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  When James Shewmaker filed for divorce from his wife Lacie, the court entered a default judgment.  Lacie appealed the default judgment, but the court upheld it, except that it gave Lacie an opportunity to enter her requests for the parenting plan regarding the parties’ minor child.

Reach Out to Us Today for a Consultation

A Boca Raton divorce lawyer can help you finalize your divorce, no matter how uncooperative your spouse is being.  Contact Schwartz | White for help with your case.




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