Default Judgments in Family Law Matters

You retained an attorney, your pleadings were properly prepared, filed, and served on the other party.  Yet the other party will not file responsive pleadings or return any communications from you or your attorney.  What happens next?  

It is time to move for a default judgment. This is a motion stating that the other side refuses to respond to the documents that were served or take any action in the pending divorce case.

The first requirement is to file the petition for divorce and have it properly served on the opposing party. This generally requires that a process server physically serve the documents on the other party.  The Court will require whoever served the documents to swear to the service under oath.  This rust be done properly or the Court will not grant a motion for a default judgment. 

However, it is not always be that simple.  If the process server cannot locate the other party, then you or your attorney must satisfy the requirements of legal notice. This requirement is usually satisfied by posting proper notice in a local periodical for a set amount of time. The Court will then consider the party served for the purposes of the case.

Once the other party is properly served, they have 20 days to file a responsive pleading.  Because the family court is a court of equity, the court will likely be lenient with this timeframe if the served party asks for an extension.

If the other party fails to file an answer, the Court will not take any action on its own.  The burden will be on the original petitioner to file a motion for clerk’s default and once the default is entered, schedule a final hearing before the Court on the matter.  The case will not move forward without it.

The Court will then examine your petition and the evidence presented. So long as everything is in order, the Court will likely enter a default final judgment resolving your case.

To schedule a consultation with a Florida Board Certified Marital and Family Law Attorney, please contact our office today.