I Was Served With Divorce Papers. What Happens if I Just Do Nothing?
Our sympathy for the situation you’re facing but we must warn you that this is a terrible idea! Let’s talk about some of the potential consequences if you do nothing after being served with divorce papers in California.
“True Default” Divorce in California
A “true default” divorce may occur in California when “more than 30 days have passed since the petitioner (the spouse/partner that started the case) served the petition and summons, and the respondent (the other spouse/partner) did not file a response (so he or she “defaulted”) AND There is no written agreement.” (Source)
When this circumstance occurs, the person who originally filed for divorce essentially gets something of a “blank check” to do what they like. Although typically they need to show at least a token effort at making an equitable division of things, they can finesse the numbers, undervalue or overvalue certain items, and do everything to put themselves in the best position and you in the least desirable one. They can draft up orders concerning important matters such as the division of any property and debt, spousal or partner support, and, if there are children involved, about custody, visitation, and child support! When you truly default, you lose your chance to make arguments about how these matters are settled and you are totally at the mercy of whatever your spouse decides to allot to you.
Why would someone do nothing and fail to respond to the Petition?
Failing to respond is a terrible mistake but it happens. People aren’t perfect, and sometimes we make huge mistakes. The spouse who defaults may be suffering from depression and struggling to even get out of bed in the morning! They may be physically or mentally ill. They may have a learning or processing disorder and may not understand that a timely response is required.
Is there any hope for someone who has truly defaulted on a divorce summons?
Maybe, but it will be an uphill battle! You need to contact an expert divorce attorney immediately who can advise you on your next steps.
Our Firm Specializes in Southern California Divorce, Especially ones Complicated by Narcissism and other Mental Illnesses. Do you have a divorce or family law question?
Call our office today at (949) 363-5551. We specialize in helping clients who have divorce and family law matters complicated by gaslighting, narcissism, bipolar disorder, and other psychological challenges. John A. Bledsoe is Orange County’s premier divorce attorney and a certified family law specialist. Our firm offers a confidential initial case evaluation. to learn more.
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