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Avoiding a Default Judgment in Divorce


Our day-to-day lives tend to be busy, with multiple tasks needing our attention. This seems to be particularly true for those who are involved in divorce proceedings, which often require time-consuming meetings and court hearings. This means that many things can slip through the cracks during divorce, some of which can end up affecting the finalization of the divorce itself. For instance, failing to respond to a court filing could result in the issuance of a default judgment. To learn more about the divorce process and how to avoid a default judgment and secure a fair settlement in your own case, please call our experienced Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney today.

What is a Default Judgment?

After a person files for divorce, his or her spouse will receive a copy of the complaint, as well as a summons to appear in court. Amongst these documents will be directions regarding what the respondent should do next, including how to file an answer to the divorce complaint itself. Generally, the spouse who receives these summons will have 20 days to respond to the complaint, although in some cases, it is possible to receive an extension. If, however, a person doesn’t comply with this direction and fails to respond within the appropriate time frame, the judge overseeing the divorce could grant a default judgment in favor of the petitioner. These judgments almost always favor the spouse who filed for divorce, who may be awarded more of the couple’s marital assets, or secure other favorable terms.

How to Avoid a Default Judgment

Even if a spouse fails to respond to a divorce complaint before the deadline, he or she may be able to avoid a default judgment by filing a Motion to Set Aside Default Judgment. After filing this motion, the person objecting to the default judgment will need to appear in court and explain why such an order is unfair or inappropriate. This in turn, will require the petitioner to prove that he or she:

  • Didn’t respond to the initial complaint because of circumstances beyond his or her control;
  • Has a defense to the judgement and can provide further evidence demonstrating why such a ruling is inappropriate; and
  • Acted timely after learning of the default judgment.

This process can be complicated, so it is usually in a person’s best interests to avoid a default judgment whenever possible by filing all necessary court documents properly and on time.

Do You Need the Help of an Experienced Florida Divorce Lawyer?

If your spouse has filed for divorce and you are concerned that he or she is going to obtain a default judgment against you, it is critical that you take action as soon as possible. To learn more about how to avoid the issuance of a default judgment in your own case, please call dedicated Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. today. You can set up a free consultation by calling 954-945-7591 or by completing one of our online contact forms.





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