You waited weeks or months for this divorce hearing, and you spent many days perfecting your case. You arrived a half-hour early to chat with your attorney and to prepare for your time in court.
As you entered the courtroom, you noticed something was wrong. Your spouse was nowhere to be found. After so long, you expected that they’d be prepared for this one important date, but they didn’t even make the effort to appear.
Failing to appear in court for a divorce hearing is a serious issue. If your spouse did not file a written answer to your divorce petition for your first appearance, then you can ask that the judge enters a default judgment in your favor. This, during a first hearing, will grant you the divorce.
Does granting your divorce mean everything is settled in your favor?
Not necessarily. Issues like child custody, spousal support and property division may not be settled yet. Those issues could be scheduled for another hearing. If your spouse doesn’t appear for those, then the judge has two options. The first is to reschedule the hearing. The second is to decide on the issues based on your testimony.
Is it common for spouses not to appear in court?
It’s not typical, but some people may choose not to appear. If they have provided a good explanation, then the judge may reschedule the court date. However, if they have a history of not appearing or haven’t been in touch with the court, then it’s less likely that the judge will give them any leeway.
There is a better chance that you can get what you want out of your divorce if your spouse doesn’t show up. You still need to make sure that your testimony is strong and that you know exactly what you want. That way, the judge can decide if what you’re asking for is fair and if your petition should be granted.
If this happens to you and your court date is rescheduled, you should go back over your legal options and look into what you’d like to do about the next hearing. You may want to change what you’re asking for in your settlement or try to reach your ex in the meantime.