What are the dangers to a respondent in a default divorce?

My wife and I recently separated and we have agreed on the division of our property (cars and furniture). All paperwork has been signed transferring the vehicles and car loans, etc. to each other as agreed upon. I do not want a divorce but my wife will most likely file. If she does file and she asks for nothing else in the petition besides the divorce and change of name, do I have to respond? If I don’t, I know that she will be granted the divorce but could there be other legal ramifications I’m unaware of? Will handling it this way cost either of us more money?

Asked on March 7, 2011 under Family Law, California


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If a party is in default, it means that he or she did not file a Response to the divorce summons. Accordingly they will not be allowed to participate in the divorce, and will not receive notice of any court dates.  Usually, a default judgment will then be taken.  In such a case the petitioner (the spouse who files for divorce) typically gets whatever was asked for in the original paperwork.  If you have any further concerns, you should at least consult with an attorney.  The cost for an hour or so of their time might be well worth it. 

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