Consider the prospect of a basketball game, and you're taking the ball
out. You have a particular time limit to do that, and if you go beyond
it, it's considered a foul. You have to give up the ball. There are
rules in that kind of game, and make no mistake: the same kind of rules
apply when it comes to divorce law. Hence, if you default on your divorce
proceedings – with something as simple as missing a deadline –
you could lose out on a lot of options, privileges and rights regarding
Take this case, for example: Clementi vs. Clementi. This is a situation
where a wife had petitioned the court for sole ownership of the marital
home, a mortgage-free property estimated at a value of $200K. She went
through the motions as one should with legal proceedings, following all
the rules, consulting with her attorney (most likely) and ensuring all
documentation was filed. Here's where we go south with the story,
and problems occur. The husband in the case apparently failed to respond
to the divorce complaint, and it resulted in a default judgment. In many
cases, a fail to respond could be considered a silent form of consent.
If he/she doesn't say anything, he/she must agree then.
This easily could apply to divorce cases
as a whole, but don't be fooled. The ramifications of defaulting don't necessarily
apply to an entire case, most specifically something regarding claims
or requests of property distribution outside the realm of equitable guidelines.
In this case, the court didn't consider the husband's failure
to respond as an outright agreement with what she was asking. The court
still held jurisdiction over how to properly distribute ownership and
assets between both parties regardless of her request.
In other words, default judgments only apply to that which the court asks
for, not any particular party. Keep that in mind when considering certain
requests or claims you'd ask a judge to evaluate. As always, consult
with your attorney.