Obtaining a divorce in California requires that certain requirements be met and legal guidelines followed. When a spouse files a petition for divorce, the other spouse will be formally served with papers. They then have the opportunity to respond to the divorce papers, but they must file their response within the timeframe set forth by California law. So, what happens if a spouse does not respond to divorce papers? Does failure to respond negatively impact your case?
At Wine Country Family Law, P.C., we equip our clients with the knowledge necessary to navigate the divorce process from beginning to end. As a leading law firm with years of experience, we often encounter similar pitfalls and questions from divorcing or separating spouses. For this reason, we prioritize a greater understanding of divorce proceedings and the implications involved in failing to respond to a divorce petition. If you or a loved one is going through a divorce, or considering filing for divorce, consider contacting our California divorce attorneys at 707-669-0841 today.
What Happens After a Spouse Is Served a Divorce Petition?
Section 2330 of the California Family Code specifies that in order to obtain a divorce in the state of California, a formal petition must be filed with specific information contained within. The California court system requires that a divorce petition be filed with the local court clerk. In California, filing would take place at the Superior Court of California in the county of residence. Once the divorce petition is officially filed, you will be required to ensure proper service of the divorce papers to your spouse and proof to the court.
The law states that a spouse or domestic partner must be made aware that the other individual has initiated the divorce process. To do this, the individual must “serve” their spouse or domestic partner with copies of all relevant court papers. The divorce proceedings cannot continue until the spouse has been properly served.
Once a spouse is served divorce papers, they are given a window of 30 days to file a response with the court. That 30-day window begins the day that the divorce papers were served. The next steps of the divorce process depend on whether or not the spouse responds to the petition and whether or not you have a written divorce agreement:
- If the spouse does not respond and there is no written divorce agreement, then you must file the appropriate forms with the court requesting orders by “default.” In this situation, the divorce is considered to be uncontested and therefore it is your responsibility to provide all the documentation including forms regarding child custody, asset division, and spousal support, if relevant. The court may require a hearing to present your case as to why your requests in your divorce should be granted.
- If the spouse does not respond and there is a written divorce agreement, then you must notarize the agreement. A divorce attorney can help you draft an agreement that reflects your wishes, ensuring that the agreement is in your best interest and/or the interests of your children. Then, the relevant forms must be submitted to the court and a final declaration of disclosure may need to be prepared and served to your spouse.
These proceedings change in the event that a spouse responds to the divorce petition. In such cases, there are different steps to be followed. An experienced attorney at Wine Country Family Law, P.C., can help you understand the process in greater detail.
What Happens If You Do Not Respond to Divorce Papers?
In California, you have 30 calendar days to respond after being served divorce papers. If you do respond to the divorce petition, then you have the opportunity to negotiate the terms of divorce with your spouse without risk of the court entering a judgment by default. The ability to negotiate and ensure that the divorce is finalized in a way that maximizes your outcome is important, which is the incentive to respond to the petition.
If you do not respond to the divorce papers, however, the administrative process will largely fall into the hands of your spouse. This is a result of the large variety of forms that must be submitted after divorce papers are served. Your spouse will file the Form FL-165, a request to enter default. They will file Form FL-170, which confirms the divorce as uncontested. When the divorce is rendered uncontested, then the filing spouse is usually given greater leverage during the property and asset division stage as well as in child custody and other arrangements. The spouse who files for a divorce judgment by default could achieve the divorce arrangements that they desire simply because you did not respond.
If you do not respond to divorce papers, you may be left vulnerable and at your spouse’s whim during the process of dissolution. For this reason, it can be beneficial to respond to papers during the allotted timeframe of 30 days. Responding to a divorce petition during the specified period allows you to have a say in the outcome and ensures that your goals are met during the finalization of the divorce.
How Can Wine Country Family Law, P.C. Help?
At Wine Country Family Law, P.C., we stand by our clients as they move through the process of divorce. We know that under the stress of divorce, filing a formal response to divorce papers with the court can become burdensome, which leads many individuals to ignore the papers entirely.
Our team of experienced California divorce attorneys are ready and willing to assist you in responding to a divorce petition and navigating the divorce agreement such that your goals and needs are optimized. Through our years of experience and comprehensive knowledge of California family law, we are able to successfully negotiate the terms of divorce for our clients. While divorce or separation may leave you feeling vulnerable, you are not alone. Consider contacting a Wine Country Family Law, P.C. attorney today at 707-669-0841 to discuss your options in greater detail.