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What if my spouse doesn’t respond to divorce papers?

On Behalf of | Jan 17, 2024 | Divorce

When you and your spouse acknowledge that your marriage is irreconcilable, you can opt for an uncontested divorce. In an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse can seek an amicable resolution to matters of property division, child custody, etc. without leaving your fate up to a judge.

This can be a less stressful way to divorce since it is based on a couple agreeing on all divorce terms. However, what happens if your spouse doesn’t respond to the divorce papers you serve them?

The importance of response

To initiate a divorce in California, the petitioner must serve divorce papers to the respondent. This marks the beginning of the legal process. Properly serving the papers is crucial, as any errors in this stage might lead to delays or complications.

Once served, the respondent typically has 30 days to respond. Failure to do so within the stipulated period can result in a default judgment, putting the responding party at a disadvantage in the divorce proceedings.

Reasons for non-response

In some cases, the non-response may be unintentional. Your spouse might be unaware of the legal implications or may not have received the papers due to issues with the serving process. Communication breakdowns can contribute to this lack of awareness.

However, because divorce is an emotionally charged process, and individuals may struggle to cope, your spouse’s non-response might stem from emotional distress or an attempt to avoid facing the reality of the situation.

If your spouse fails to respond within the designated timeframe, you can file a petition for default with the court. This asserts your right to proceed with the divorce based on your terms.

When faced with the scenario of a spouse not responding to divorce papers, understanding the legal implications and taking informed steps is paramount. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to get started.