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How does a default divorce work?

On Behalf of | Feb 5, 2024 | Divorce

Divorce can be a complex and emotionally challenging process. However, understanding the basics can help alleviate some of the stress.

Some people end their marriage through a default divorce. It is important to review the concept of a default divorce and how it works in simple terms.

What is a default divorce?

A default divorce occurs when one spouse files for divorce, and the other spouse fails to respond or participate in the legal proceedings within a specified timeframe. In such cases, the court may grant a default judgment, allowing the divorce to proceed without the non-responsive spouse’s active involvement.

The spouse who wishes to end the marriage files a divorce petition or complaint with the court, outlining the reasons for the divorce and any desired terms, such as child custody or property division. The filing spouse must serve the divorce papers to the other spouse, ensuring they receive proper notice of the legal proceedings.

When does a divorce go into default?

If the served spouse fails to respond within the specified timeframe (usually 30 days), a default divorce could move ahead. The court reviews the filing spouse’s petition and, in the absence of a response from the non-responsive spouse, may grant a default judgment. This judgment typically aligns with the terms requested in the initial divorce petition. The court will issue a divorce decree, legally terminating the marriage. In this state, according to the North Carolina Judicial Branch, a couple must live apart for one year and one day before a spouse can file for divorce.

It is important to note that a default divorce does not necessarily mean the non-responsive spouse forfeits all rights. The court will still consider factors such as child custody, support and property division. However, without active participation from the non-responsive spouse, the court’s decision may largely align with the filing spouse’s requests. By taking prompt action and actively participating in the legal proceedings, both spouses can protect their interests during the divorce process.