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The Specific Ramifications of Defaulting on Your Divorce Proceedings

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 the divorce.

Default Judgments & the Presumption of Agreement

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 is presumed to be in agreement.

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.

Contact Moskowitz Law Group, LLC if you are considering a divorce in Bergen County. Our New Jersey divorce lawyers would be happy to help.