What Happens if You Do Not Sign the Divorce Papers?

A divorce case begins when one spouse files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, either at the courthouse or through their family law attorney. Once this is filed, the other spouse must be served with the divorce papers, either through a process server, a sheriff, or their lawyer can accept service on their behalf if they have already hired one.

After the spouse has been served with the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage packet, they can respond to the complaints made, either agreeing or disagreeing with them. Sometimes though, the spouse that has been served does not want to reply and while that is an option, it is important to know the pros and cons of ignoring the complaint.

Default Divorces in Florida

Just like in any other type of civil case, if you do not respond to the divorce papers once you have received them, your spouse may be able to obtain a default divorce. This is only possible when your spouse has shown that you have officially been served, or that they have made every effort to notify you of the divorce, such as publishing an announcement in the newspaper.

If your spouse can prove the above elements and you have not responded, a Judge may grant your spouse a default divorce. A default divorce means the case can legally proceed without your presence. However, you will not have the opportunity to raise defenses if you do not agree with what your spouse says, such as if they are asking the Court for alimony. Once a Judge has made all final decisions on the case, the divorce will be official, even if you do not respond or appear in Court.

The Benefits of a Default Divorce

Generally speaking, it is recommended that people respond to a civil complaint against them, including when a spouse files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. Still, there are times when obtaining a default divorce is beneficial. Divorce by default is usually much quicker than when both parties go through litigation. If a couple can agree to all the terms of the divorce, they may also agree that one spouse will not respond, making the divorce process much easier and more affordable. Even when this is the case, it is still best to speak to an attorney that will ensure your rights are upheld.

The Drawbacks of a Default Divorce

Of course, if you do not respond to the divorce complaint, you will essentially allow your spouse to obtain whatever terms of the divorce they wish. They will attend a hearing and argue their case to a Judge, while you will not have the opportunity to do the same. Consenting to a default divorce requires a great deal of trust between both parties, which is not often present towards the end of a marriage.

Our Family Law Team Can Help with Your Response

If you have been served with divorce papers, it is important that you speak with an Orlando divorce lawyer as soon as possible. At O’Mara Law Group, our skilled attorney can help draft your response and will fight to ensure your rights are upheld. Call us today at 407-634-6604 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.


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