If you’ve filed for divorce or other family law matter, and the other party is avoiding service, it’s not the end of the world.  There are alternatives available, some of which need court approval.

Once service is complete, if the other party fails to file a response within twenty days (in-state service) or thirty days (out-of-state service) then you may file for a default judgment.

The time frame for applying for a default is different if it is a divorce versus other types of cases.  These time limits include weekends and holidays, except if the last day falls on a weekend or holiday. Then they get an extra day to respond.

The other party doesn’t necessarily have to file a response to the Petition. They can also file a Motion to Dismiss, or a Motion to Change Venue.  In these instances you have to file a response to their motion.

Keep in mind that a default decree doesn’t mean you’re completely out of the woods.

Some defaults can be tricky.  You still may need an attorney, to make sure that you won’t be back in court for modification, or other issues that you might have overlooked. This is probably your first (and hopefully your last) time you’re going to ask for a default judgment.  An experience family law attorney has asked for default judgments many times, and knows what details are important.  Also keep in mind that this doesn’t apply to a deployed military servicemember, special rules are in place under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to protect them from default judgments while deployed; another reason why you need an attorney.

If children are involved, and you’re asking for sole custody (legal decision making) and/or alimony (spousal maintenance), and you ask for a default judgment, there will be an appearance before a Judge.

If you need help with a default divorce, or other family issue call Enholm Law at (602) 889-6273.