A respondent might fail to respond to a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage for various reasons. Some respondents intentionally choose not to reply due to the emotions that arise when they receive divorce papers. Others fail to answer because of reasons beyond their control. For example, if you do not receive a copy of the petition, you cannot respond to it. Regardless of the reason for failing to respond to a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, Florida petitioners can request for default divorces when their spouses fail to respond within a given time.
Florida is a no-fault divorce state. Therefore, an individual can file for divorce without needing to prove the underlying reasons that led to their decision to file for divorce. A petitioner only needs to prove that there are irreconcilable differences in their marriage. Furthermore, if a respondent fails to respond to the petition within 20 days after receiving a divorce petition, the court could enter a default judgment. If, after receiving the divorce papers from your spouse, you fail to respond within 20 days, your spouse (the petitioner) has the legal right to request the court to enter a default ruling.
What Happens Once the Court Grants My Spouse the Default Judgment?
When you fail to respond to the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, and the court grants your spouse a default judgement, the divorce case will most likely proceed without your participation. A default judgment also makes you lose the right to object to any of the terms in the petition. If you lose this right, it means that the divorce case outcomes will most likely favor your spouse (the petitioner). To protect your legal rights, you must respond to the petition as soon as you receive it.
What to Do When Your Spouse Serves You With a Default Divorce Judgment
Ignoring and failing to respond to a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is never a wise decision. However, if you do not respond to the petition and your spouse decides to file a motion for default, you should not panic because there are options for you. It would be best if you contact an experienced attorney once you are served with the default judgment. Maybe you failed to respond to the petition because you did not receive it or because it was not properly served. Whatever your reason for not replying, inform your attorney about it, and they will advise you accordingly.
Regardless of your reason for not responding to the petition, the trick to tackling a default judgment is to act fast. The court is more likely to consider setting aside a default judgment if a respondent appears in court to defend themselves as soon as they learn about it. To increase your chances of convincing the court to set aside the default judgment, your attorney will work toward proving excusable neglect, due diligence, and a meritorious defense.
Contact a Professional Divorce Attorney
If your spouse has served you with a default divorce judgment, you need to work with a qualified divorce attorney who can help you increase your chances of convincing the court to overturn the decision. Reach Tampa Bay Legal Center, P.A., at (813) 341-3333 or through the online contact form today to receive expert help.