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March 26, 2021

What Is a Default Divorce? | Understanding a Default Divorce in Arizona

Divorce

Default divorce

A divorce can be accomplished in several different ways. The preferable method to going through a divorce is for one party to file a divorce complaint, the other party being served with the paperwork, and both parties being a part of the process so that the marriage can be legally dissolved. However, occasionally, one party is less than cooperative with the process. In fact, many times, one party may ignore the paperwork and do nothing. In this situation, a default divorce can be issued.

What Is a Default Divorce?

A default divorce is a proceeding where one party receives a judgment of divorce based on the other party’s failure to file a response at the appropriate time as dictated by the law.

Many different circumstances exist as to why a default divorce will be issued. Sometimes one spouse is unable to find the other party through appropriate service. Other times, the non-filing spouse refuses to participate in the divorce action.

Another situation where a default divorce would be appropriate is when the parties agree to enter a default judgment when the proceedings are otherwise uncontested.

A default divorce is accomplished in much less time than a regular divorce proceeding, although this may or may not be a preferable situation.

However, the part of a divorce that often takes the longest is the involvement of both parties in negotiating or litigating the differences between the parties. Since a default divorce proceeding is a one-sided process, for the most part, it is often accomplished much quicker.

What Is the Process?

Any divorce process starts with filing a petition detailing the grounds for the divorce and parties involved. This complaint is filed by one of the parties to the marriage. It is that person’s responsibility to then serve the other party with the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.

The summons is a court order issued by the Clerk of Court, which commands the other receiving party to file a written response to the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.  

The receiving party’s response should either admit or deny each allegation listed in the Petition and assert additional allegations supporting that party’s legal position. This Response is similarly filed with the court and served to the filing party.

It is essential that the receiving party not ignore the papers after being served. The deadlines for filing a response as listed by the summons are crucial.

If the receiving party fails to file a Response, the filing party can then proceed with the divorce without any other spouse’s input, which is thus known as a default divorce.

This time is usually 20 to 30 days after being served with the petition for dissolution. The deadline ultimately depends on whether the person was served and resided in the state of Arizona. Or whether he or she is not a resident of Arizona, which would obviously allow for more time to respond.

Simply calling the other spouse after the petition is received does not qualify as a response. An actual, written, formal response is required for the other spouse to participate in the proceedings properly.

It is usually recommended that an attorney be consulted if someone receives a petition. A a proper response can be prepared and filed within the statutory deadline.

Risks of Default Divorce

A couple of different risks exist for a default divorce. One of the major risks involves the defaulted, non-responding party. Without that person’s involvement, the court may enter any order that the other party requests within the reason and confines of the law.

By not being an active participant in the proceedings, that person is basically conceding to any other party’s request. He or she may even be barred from disputing the order if that person disagrees with anything issued.

On the other hand, the party requesting the default runs the risk that the other party can fight the order if it can be proven that the requesting party did not make a full effort to locate and serve him or her with the proceedings.

Contact Us Today

In many of these cases, the client must be working with a family lawyer when filing for dissolution of marriage. If you need a strong advocate in your corner, contact us today to schedule a consultation. Contact us at (480) 300-6012.

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