A default divorce in California occurs when the non-filing spouse (respondent) fails to file a written response to the divorce petition. The court grants the filing spouse (petitioner) a divorce in their absence. This may happen for a number of reasons.

For example, the non-filing spouse may:

  • Choose not to cooperate with the divorce
  • Ignore the divorce
  • Be unaware of the divorce

Regardless of the cause for a default divorce, the court follows a basic procedure and timeline when handling these matters.

Default Divorce Process in California

If the respondent is served with the divorce petition, the petitioner may proceed with a default divorce if there is no written and filed response within thirty days after the service of the petition. A respondent who intentionally avoids personal service of the divorce petition may be served by another process so the petitioner can proceed with the divorce.

In a default divorce, the court will likely grant the divorce according to the petitioner’s requests as there are no opposing positions presented by the defendant. Once a default divorce is granted, it can be next to impossible to set aside the judgment.

Advantages and Disadvantages to a Default Divorce

While a default divorce can save time and money because it is uncontested, it is a risky move for both spouses. The divorce process generally proceeds smoothly for the petitioner, and their orders are granted by the court. However, a respondent who honestly did not know about the default divorce may ask the court to set aside the default judgment and rehear the case.

Neither party has the benefit of examining the other spouses’ financial information or other records prior to the issuing of final orders in a default divorce. Nor is there an opportunity for the respondent to have legal counsel review any orders for fairness and clarity or to make sure they are in the respondent’s best interests.

What to Do If You are Served a Default Divorce

If you are served a divorce petition, retain an experienced Los Angeles divorce attorney and answer the petition within the time allotted. Otherwise, you could lose your legal right to do so.

Should you receive a default divorce, contact a divorce attorney immediately. Legal action will need to start right away in the hopes of setting aside the judgment. If the divorce order cannot be set aside, some divorce orders can be modified, like child custody, child visitation, child support, and spousal support.

Contact an Experienced California Attorney

Do not take unnecessary chances and ignore a divorce petition. It is less complicated and expensive to handle all divorce issues between spouses correctly the first time, and there are some final orders in a default divorce that cannot be modified.

Contact Fernandez & Karney the moment you are served with a divorce petition, and we will ensure your rights are protected throughout any divorce negotiations, agreements, or litigation. At Fernandez & Karney, we are divorce professionals and can assist you with your divorce-related needs. Reach out to our California offices today.