You may have seen movies like this: A man tries to divorce his vengeful and uncooperative ex or vice versa. The ex, not wanting to give into the spouse’s demands refuses to answer the divorce papers and sits on them, causing an extremely long and difficult legal litigation process eventually ending up with our hero’s freedom and often a subsequent true-love relationship. Well, in reality, it’s not that complicated. Here’s why.
A divorce petition can be considered, legally, a lot like a lawsuit would. The “defendant” (the ex) is being “sued” (served a divorce petition) by the spouse in question. What happens when you don’t answer a lawsuit? Well, usually, a default is reached, causing often undesirable outcomes for the “guilty party.” When a default is reached, you no longer have the right to fight for things like child support, child custody, or property division as you would if you complied. An important factor in this is whether the lack of answer was willing or not because there are cases in which a defendant is unable to answer within the time frame, often 30 days, so keep that in mind if you’re on the tail-end of the divorce petition.
If you’re not like the couple in the movies: Two kids, a mortgage, cars – you may not need to go through a traditional divorce. There is a legal process known as a summary divorce which is a streamlined process offering you cheaper legal fees, less time, and less court involved. How do I qualify for summary divorce? Well, if you’ve been married for less than five years (in some states this is different), have no minor children, no mortgage or home, and your marital property is worth less than $35,000 not counting vehicles, then you might be eligible. First, check the eligibility requirements in your state, and keep in mind that both you and your spouse give up your right to spousal support in a case of summary divorce, but think of all that time and money saved!
Whether you’re involved in a long, difficult divorce, or a quick and easy one, divorce is usually a hard process for both spouses. Always consult with legal counsel including utilizing free case reviews from divorce attorneys to find out what is right for you.