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The Pitfalls of Default Judgments of Divorce

divorce is a lawsuit.  As in any other lawsuit, a Default Judgment of Divorce is the culmination of a process in which the party being sued, i.e. the Defendant, has a Judgment entered against him or her without that party’s participation.  This brings up two questions: First, is it ever advisable to allow a Default Judgment of Divorce to be entered against you?  On the other hand, what are the implications of having a Default Judgment of Divorce entered against your spouse?

Being Defaulted

We are often asked by clients if they should “bother” participating in their divorce process given that “we don’t have anything” or that “we agree on everything.”  The answer is to always participate in the lawsuit.  Failing to file a timely written answer to the complaint for divorce will prevent you from effectively disputing issues down the road.  While it may be possible to file a motion to set aside the default, there is no guarantee that a judge will do that.  In other words, by the time you realize that the judgment your spouse intends to submit to the court is not what you expected, it may be too late. 

Getting the Default Judgment

The other side of this scenario is what can happen when your spouse doesn’t file an answer or otherwise participate in the divorce proceedings.  While at first blush you may think, “great, this means I get anything I want,” it is not that simple.  First, the Court still has to approve the Default Judgment of Divorce and make sure that it is generally equitable and that it contains all of the statutory requirements.  If there are minor children, this process will take six months or more.  Moreover, a Default Judgment of Divorce cannot contain certain provisions that a Consent Judgment can contain.  Examples of these provisions are as follows:  include a complete barring of spousal support/alimony, a mutual release of claims that prevents either party from suing the other for things that may have happened during the marriage, as well as a name change for the woman in the case. 

The bottom line is that it is always advisable to formally participate in the divorce process, preferably with the assistance of a qualified attorney.  Furthermore, there are plenty of reasons that you will want your wife to participate, as well, and sign a Consent Judgment of Divorce.

About ADAM (American Divorce Association for Men)

The American Divorce Association for Men (ADAM) is a group of highly qualified attorneys who advocate for men’s rights in divorce, child custody and parenting time, paternity, support, property settlement, post judgment modifications, and other family law matters. Since 1988,ADAM has been aggressive, diligent, and uncompromising when representing their clients. A team of compassionate and skilled family law attorneys, ADAM is dedicated to being Michigan’s leading divorce attorneys for men.