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What Is a Default Divorce?

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What Is a Default Divorce?

Understanding a Default Divorce in Arizona

A divorce can be accomplished in a number of different ways. The preferable method to going through a divorce is for one party to file a complaint for divorce, 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 simply ignore the paperwork and do nothing, either out of denial or refusal to cooperate. In these situations, 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 in 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-side process for the most part, it is often accomplished much quicker.

What Is the Process?

Any divorce process starts with the filing of 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, as well as a summons.

The summons is a court order that is 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 can also assert additional allegations in support of that party’s legal position. This Response is similarly filed with the court and served to the filing party.

It is extremely important that the receiving party not ignore the papers after he or she has been served. The deadlines for filing a response as listed by the summons is extremely important.

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

This time is usually twenty (20) to thirty (30) days after being served with the petition for dissolution. The deadline ultimately depends on whether the person was served and resides 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 properly participate in the proceedings.

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

Risks of Default Divorce

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

By not being an active participant of the proceedings, that person is basically conceding to any request made by the other party. 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 does run 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 in locating and serving him or her with the proceedings.

Contact Us Today

Many of these decisions are fact-specific, and it is important that the client is working with a family law attorney when filing for dissolution of marriage. If you need a strong advocate in your corner, it is important you contact us today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case. Contact us at (480) 300-6012.

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