Some divorces require years of litigation — taking so long that the children who were minors when the couple filed for divorce have since grown up.  Others are relatively painless; in a lower budget version of celebrity “conscious uncoupling,” a couple who no longer wish to be married simply fill out forms together and file them at the courthouse, and a few months later, a judge declares them divorced.  

Both of these scenarios, as well as the middle ground into which most divorces fall, require that both spouses acknowledge that the divorce is happening.  What happens if, when you decide to file for divorce, you cannot even find your spouse? It is often possible to get a divorce by default. A Greenville, SC divorce lawyer can help you divorce your uncooperative or incognito spouse.

How to Obtain a Divorce By Default

In a divorce case, the spouse who files for divorce is called the petitioner, also known as a plaintiff.  After you file for divorce, your spouse has the chance to submit a response to your divorce petition; thus, he or she is known as the respondent or defendant in the divorce case.  Petition is another word for request; thus, in your divorce petition, you get to list your requests regarding spousal support, division of property, and, if applicable, child custody.  

In the response, your spouse gets to list their own requests about those same matters.  When you disagree about child custody or about financial matters, a judge must decide what is fair.  Courts calculate child support payments based on the children’s needs and on the financial situation of each parent.  They determine spousal support and division of property on the spouses’ current needs and resources as well as their future earning potential, their ages and health, and the length of the marriage.

When you file the petition for divorce, you must immediately notify your spouse by having the divorce papers formally served.  If your spouse does not respond to the divorce petition within 35 days, you are eligible for a default judgment in the divorce.  That means that the court will set up a hearing, at which you and your witnesses will testify that you and your spouse have been separated long enough to qualify for a divorce (at least one year) and that you have made every reasonable effort to notify your spouse about the divorce petition.  

The court will then declare you legally divorced.  Since your spouse did not respond to the divorce petition and mention their own requests, the court will usually grant all the requests you made in your divorce petition.

Contact Briggs Law Firm About Divorce Cases

It is still a good idea to meet with a divorce attorney before you file for divorce, even if you think that it is very unlikely that your spouse will file a response to your divorce petition.  Briggs Law deals with family law cases like yours.  Contact Briggs Law Firm in Greenville, South Carolina to discuss your case.

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