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What Is A Default Divorce?

What Is A Default Divorce?

March 29, 2023

By Johnson/Turner Legal

What Is A Default Divorce?

March 29, 2023

By Johnson/Turner Legal

Your divorce proceeding tends to work better when both you and your ex participate in the process. At best, the two of you may be able to reach an amicable agreement as to a parenting time schedule, spousal support, and division of property and assets. 

But even if the two of you are not able to agree on issues, dialoguing with one another or allowing your divorce lawyer to make arguments for you to the judge can help you feel as though your concerns were at least heard.

Suppose your ex is an obstructionist and wants to delay or derail the divorce proceedings by refusing to participate at all. They may try to do this by:

  • Evading service of your divorce petition
  • Not filing an answer in response to the divorce petition
  • Refusing to show up for court hearings
  • Ignoring orders of the court to supply the necessary information 

Faced with a divorce case in which one of the parties refuses to participate, the court may be left with no choice other than to grant a default divorce.

Minnesota Divorce Lawyer Explains the Divorce Process

Either you or your partner can file for divorce in Minnesota, and you may do so with or without providing prior notice to the other. 

For example, suppose that one Monday morning you decide you no longer want to be married to your spouse. You are free to hire a divorce lawyer that day and file for divorce. Because you are filing for divorce, you become known as the petitioner. Your soon-to-be ex will be referred to as the respondent.

Next, your divorce petition will be served on the respondent. After being served, the respondent has a window of time within which they can respond in writing to your petition. They may choose to do this if, for instance, they disagree with your proposed child visitation schedule or who is awarded the house. 

The respondent may not need to reply in writing, though, to participate in the divorce. The petition will include a court date on which the respondent is expected to appear. 

At this court appearance, the court will consider the petition and any response filed along with any statements you or your ex make. This will help the court identify what areas of disagreement exist and what issues need to be resolved.

Default Exists When the Respondent Fails to Appear

A respondent may choose not to respond to the petition despite having the opportunity to do so. The respondent may also choose not to appear in court on the date indicated in the petition. 

Like any other civil proceeding, failing to appear will not result in any sort of warrant or order being issued to arrest the respondent. However, a non-appearance will result in the respondent being found to be in default.

A respondent who is in default essentially means that they have forfeited the right to participate in the divorce proceeding and have implicitly consented to whatever orders the court enters. 

In this default divorce proceeding, the court will consider only the requests made in your petition. These requests will typically be granted as long as they are not illegal or obviously unfair to the other party. This means the court will usually:

  • Find that the marriage is irretrievably broken and grant you a divorce
  • Follow your suggestion for the division of assets and liabilities
  • Adopt your proposed child custody and visitation arrangement
  • Use your proposed child support calculations in ordering child support

You should be aware, though, that if you and the respondent have children in common, the court may not grant these orders right away. The court may give the respondent one final opportunity to appear in court before proceeding to enter default orders.

Undoing a Default Divorce

Once you have been found to be in default, it becomes very difficult to undo the orders that the court has entered. The court retains the ability to take the matter up again and may do so under compelling circumstances, such as a prolonged illness that prevented the respondent from responding or appearing. 

The respondent would also have a right to appeal any divorce decree or default orders entered.

Speak to a Minnesota Divorce Lawyer About Your Case Today

While you do not have to participate in a divorce proceeding if you are the respondent, neglecting to do so is rarely a good idea. If you are contemplating filing for divorce, or if you have been served with papers, reach out to Johnson/Turner Legal for assistance. 

Book a quick guidance call with us to discuss your situation and the options you have for protecting your interests.


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