In a divorce, family law or child custody matter, a default judgment can be an option for some parties to pursue. In some cases, a default judgment might be entered against them. They might wonder if there is anything they can do about it.
A default judgment happens when one party is served the pleadings (or motion) in a case and the deadline for filing a responsive pleading is passed. The responsive pleading varies based on the type of case and is called an “answer.”
When the deadline has passed, the party who initiated the case often has an option to file a motion for default. The exact procedure can vary based on the jurisdiction. But, generally, the motion for default will be set for hearing. If the other party does not show up to court, the court can then enter a default judgment.
Many are not sure what they get by taking a default judgment
It generally means that the party who initiates the case gets the relief they request. If a party filed for a divorce, they would get the divorce. As for the other issues in the case, it would mean that they would ordinarily get the relief they requested. This includes custody, support, property and debt division, or attorney’s fees. A judge theoretically could say “no” to some of the relief requested if it was legally inappropriate. But in a default judgment, a party ordinarily gets all or most of what they requested in their pleadings.
For any party who has been served papers or been notified of a court date, it is vital that they take quick action. Hiring a lawyer to ensure that the appropriate responsive pleadings are filed on time is recommended. It also means ensuring that they are in court on the date their case is set.
Act quickly to avoid missing deadlines
A party might be able to file a motion to set aside a default judgment later for good cause. The exact procedure and timing can vary by the jurisdiction. If a party knows that a default judgment has been entered against them, it is vital they act quickly. This ensures motions are filed before the deadlines. If they do not act quickly, they will be bound by the terms. In child custody, courts generally disfavor default judgments and will set aside default judgments routinely if within time and for good cause.
The term “default” is often confusing to a lot of parties when thinking about divorce or family law matters. To give a sport analogy, think of what happens when a sports team fails to show up. They forfeit the game and, in essence, lose. A default judgment and a forfeit are a fairly accurate comparison for those who have a hard time understanding the concept.
If you are going through a divorce or family law matter where a default judgment is a relevant issue, Stange Law Firm, PC can help. You can contact us at 855-805-0595.