You Can’t Avoid a Divorce by Pretending You Didn’t Receive the Divorce Papers
Sometimes people do desperate things when they find out that their spouse plans to divorce them. Your previously mild-mannered spouse might turn into a monster you do not recognize, calling you terrible names, sabotaging marital property, and threatening to fight you over every penny and make the judge think that you are a terrible parent. Conversely, your spouse might offer to make big sacrifices to save your marriage, such as offering to cut up her credit cards and renounce her shopping hobby or to move to be closer to your family, with whom she has always had a tense relationship. Others are completely in denial about the divorce. They think that if they ignore the divorce papers, the divorce will just go away. This is a mistake, and ignoring the divorce case only makes the situation worse. If you have been blindsided by being served with divorce papers, a South Florida divorce lawyer can help you.
How Default Divorce Works
When you file for divorce in Florida, you must formally serve your spouse with a copy of the divorce petition you have just submitted to the court. The petition includes all your requests for provisions that you want the court to make when it dissolves your marriage. For example, you can request possession of the marital home, 235 days of parenting time per year, and $1,000 per month in spousal support for the next seven years. Your spouse then has the opportunity to file a response to your petition; this is his chance to state his requests for the terms of the divorce, where they differ from yours. For example, your spouse might agree that you can keep the house, but he might say no to the alimony, and he might want 180 days of parenting time instead of 130. The response to the petition is the place to say this. The deadline to file a response is 20 days from the date you were served with the divorce petition.
Normally, if your spouse files a response, you then attend mediation together and attempt to reach an agreement about the terms of your divorce, and if this doesn’t work, you go to trial. Some couples agree beforehand about the terms of their divorce before they submit the divorce petition. This is called an uncontested divorce; the shorter the marriage and the lower your net worth, the easier it is to get an uncontested divorce.
If your spouse doesn’t respond to the petition, you can request a default judgment, where the court dissolves the marriage and grants all the requests in your petition. It is your duty to make every effort to serve your spouse with papers and notify him of the divorce filing; if you don’t know your spouse’s contact information, you can publish an announcement about the divorce filing in the newspaper. If your spouse does not respond within 20 days of being served or within 20 days of the notice appearing, you can request a default judgment. Trying to reverse a default judgment on a technicality is almost always a losing battle.
Let Us Help You Today
A Boca Raton divorce lawyer can help you end your marriage on terms favorable to you, even if the divorce was not your idea. Contact Schwartz | White for a consultation on your case.