If you are served with a Petition for Divorce, you may be feeling many emotions – sadness over the end of your marriage, anger at your spouse’s actions and/or relief that your marriage is coming to an end. Those spouses who are unwillingly served with divorce papers may think that they can stop or slow down the divorce by ignoring the fact that it is happening. This is simply not true, and doing so will likely be to your detriment.
Once the Petitioner files the Petition for Divorce and properly serves the Respondent with the appropriate paperwork, the divorce will move forward. The Respondent has 30 days to respond to the Petition, and the court may schedule status conferences and hearings as necessary to resolve the case. Once the Respondent has been served, the court will presume that he/she is receiving proper notice of all court dates. Thus, if the Respondent fails to show up for a court date, the Judge will most likely continue without him/her. In this circumstance, the court can only hear the Petitioner’s side and, therefore, will likely award the Petitioner everything he/she is asking, so long as the law and Petitioner’s evidence supports such an award. This includes awards for child custody, child support, alimony and equitable distribution.
Actor Columbus Short recently learned this lesson the hard way. Columbus Short Child Support Case – Former “Scandal” Star NAILED In Court, tmz.com, June 25, 2014. In that divorce case, Short didn’t respond to his estranged wife’s divorce petition and failed to attend the hearing. As a result, Short’s wife was awarded $17,005 per month in alimony and $4,542 per month in child support. In addition, he was ordered to pay his wife’s legal bills in the amount of $25,000.
The lesson here is don’t ignore your divorce case. Once your are served, the case will move forward with or without you, and you will likely be much better off if you show up and make a case for yourself.