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Default Divorce: What Is It?

What is a Default Divorce?

When a spouse is served with divorce papers and they do not respond within the allotted time period (30 days in North Carolina), they are considered to be “in default” and the divorce can proceed without his or her input.

Some believe that by not responding to the divorce petition, they can slow proceedings or prevent the divorce from proceeding altogether. This is not the case. Divorce proceedings can and will go on even if one spouse does not submit a response to the divorce petition. This is called a default divorce.

In a default divorce, the party seeking a divorce (the petitioner) will seek divorce by filing a Motion for Entry of Default. When this motion is granted, the spouse who did not respond does not get to have the court hear his or her side. This results in rulings that are more favorable to the petitioner since the other party has not given the court any reason to deny their spouse’s requests. If you were served divorce papers but did not respond, you have a right to read your spouse’s requests, although you cannot submit your own or object to them.

Is a Default Divorce the Same as an Uncontested Divorce?

Default divorce and uncontested divorce are similar in the eyes of the court since neither one requires a judge to make decisions on your behalf, but they are different. In an uncontested divorce, the parties have come to an agreement on all aspects of the divorce so it is unnecessary to bring the case before a judge. In a default divorce, one party makes the decisions since the other has given up their right to do so by not responding to the divorce petition.

Filing for Default Divorce in North Carolina

If you are the petitioner and your spouse has not responded to your initial petition for divorce, you may continue with a default divorce by following these steps:

  1. File your Motion for Entry of Default with the court.
  2. With your attorney, compile your custody, child support, alimony/spousal support, and property division requests and complete the required paperwork.
  3. Ask your lawyer if there are any additional forms required by the state of North Carolina or city of Raleigh and complete any required local forms.
  4. Make two copies of each form: one for you and one for your former spouse.
  5. Submit the original copies to the court clerk.

A default divorce typically moves quickly. You can be granted a divorce in as little as one month after submitting your agreement (the above paperwork) to the court.

Do I Need a Lawyer for a Default Divorce?

Yes. Even though you will not be facing off against your soon-to-be-former spouse in court, it is still highly recommended that you have an attorney assist you in filing the Motion of Entry of Default and completing all necessary paperwork.

If you are the petitioner, it is imperative that your requests for custody, alimony, and division of property, are submitted correctly and in a timely fashion because once requests are presented, they cannot be revised. Having an attorney draw up your requests and review your paperwork will give you peace of mind during a stressful time.

Let Doyle Law Group Help You Navigate Your Default Divorce

We’ve helped Raleigh couples through divorce for over 20 years. When you need expert negotiators who will work to get the best outcome for your family, you need the Doyle Law Group. Call us at  (919) 301-8843 or fill out our online contact form to schedule your consultation.

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