There are very few ways to win (i.e, get 100% of what you want) in divorce. One way to win, however, is for the other side to default.
Default is when the other side doesn’t do anything at all. They don’t respond to pleadings. They don’t respond to Court summons. They don’t communicate.
When this happens, you win by default and get everything you asked for.
Defaults can happen when you file your Divorce Complaint and the other side doesn’t file an Answer. They can also occur when you go to court for a hearing and the other side doesn’t show up.
What is the #1 thing you should you do when this happens; when the other side defaults?
That’s right: run. I know that doesn’t sound very lawyerly, but it’s true. If someone doesn’t show up for a hearing and the judge enters a default, run out of the courthouse as fast as you can.
The reason for this is because if the person shows up while you’re still in the courtroom, they judge will recall the default and go on with the hearing. If that happens, you chance losing. If you’re out of the courthouse and the other person shows up, the judge will tell your spouse the default because he or she didn’t show. Better safe than sorry.
Same principle applies to when your spouse doesn’t file an Answer. You want to run to the courthouse and file your Default Certificate and all your default paperwork. The sooner you do that the sooner the judge will sign your Divorce Decree.
Once the Decree is signed, your case is done. If your spouse comes back at that point and asks the judge to reopen the case, the judge will say no.
If you don’t run and file your default paperwork, however, you give your spouse extra time to respond. If he or she does respond, you probably won’t get everything you asked for. Better safe than sorry.
Lesson of the day: run.