Other Low-Conflict Ways To Get Divorced
This is where one party files for divorce (a.k.a. the “Petitioner”), and the other party (a.k.a. the “Respondent”) does not respond. Twenty days after the Respondent is served, the Petitioner can file for a default. The Petitioner must prepare a Default Decree, and, in most cases, attend a hearing. When a divorce proceeds by default, the Petitioner gets everything they are requested (limited by what the Petitioner listed in the Petition).
In our experience, we do not recommend going by default, as it carries substantial risk for both parties. In our practice, we have seen many Petitioners who could not get the Court to accept their default decree. We’ve seen people have to return to court as many as four times over an eight-month period to attempt to get their “quickie” divorce finalized. Additionally, many Petitioners contact us because they omitted something in the Petition that they now want to be included in the Decree. This is difficult to correct.
More commonly, we receive panicked calls from Respondents who were divorced by default—and the terms were not what they expected. We have had parents alarmed over the parenting plan the Court approved. In some cases, we have even had to file emergency petitions to undo default parenting plans. We have had parties who frightened over unfair financial terms. In a few cases, we have even seen parties financially ruined by the terms the spouse they trusted imposed on them. Once default has occurred, it is difficult and expensive to overturn. We have seen so many horror stories happen with defaults that we strongly advocate against the practice of proceeding by default.
Mediation is the far more-preferable way to get divorced. Many of our mediations reach full agreements in one two-hour session. Our mediators will ensure that all the vital considerations of a divorce are made and that the agreements are amicable. Mediation allows both parties to be a part of the conversation and part of the solution. Both parties agree to what is occurring.