A DEFAULT DECREE IS USED TO PREVENT AN OPPOSING PARTY FROM HIJACKING CASE PROGRESSION BY AVOIDING SERVICE OF PROCESS OR THROUGH INACTION./
Family Law Default Decree Process
In a family law matter, a default decree may be an option for a party to the matter. A default decree generally means that the party who initiated the matter receives the relief they requested through pleadings. When a party to a court proceeding fails to timely file a responsive pleading, an opposing party may request that the Court issue a default decree. The responsive pleading will vary depending on the type of family law matter, but typically the responsive pleading is referred to as an “answer.” Essentially, a default decree is used to prevent an opposing party from hijacking case progression by avoiding service of process or through inaction.
If you no longer have contact with your spouse or ex, you may not know where he or she now resides. Alternatively, some individuals purposely avoid service of process. In these situations, you may be able to petition the Court seeking the Court’s permission to serve by publication in a newspaper. There are statutory and procedural requirements involved with this type of service of process. At Hall & Wingert, P.L.C., the attorneys have the necessary knowledge and experience to resolve issues such as these.
Once the opposing party has been properly served and the answer deadline has expired, the initiating party generally has an option to file a motion for default. The exact procedure may vary depending on the jurisdiction and procedural posture, but generally, the motion for default is then set for hearing. If the opposing party fails to appear for the hearing, the Court may then enter a default decree upon a sufficient finding of facts. In some matters, a default decree may be issued upon a sufficient finding of facts through the filing of a sworn affidavit. The attorneys at Hall & Wingert, P.L.C. can guide you through the process of obtaining a default decree in these types of situations.
What is the Result of a Default Decree?
Often our clients will ask what they can obtain through a default decree. Generally, but not without exception, a default decree will mean that if you were seeking a divorce, you would get the divorce. Other matters such as custody, support, property and debt division, and attorney’s fees may also be obtained through a default decree.
Therefore, not all relief requested by a party may be awarded to that party. Examples of reasons a Court may not award requested relief is if the Court deems the request inequitable (unfair/unjust) or legally inappropriate. More generally though, a party receives what they requested in their pleadings.
It is important that you contact an attorney if you have been served court papers or have been notified of a court date to ensure that your interests in the matter are protected. The attorneys at Hall & Wingert, P.L.C., will ensure that the appropriate responsive pleadings are filed timely and appear before the Court on your behalf.
We Can Help with a Default Decree
If you have had a default decree entered against you, the attorneys at Hall & Wingert, P.L.C. may be able to file a motion to set aside the default decree for good cause. Again, the exact procedure and timing can vary by the jurisdiction. If you know that a default decree has been entered against you, it is vital that you act quickly to avoid missing any motion deadlines. Otherwise, you will be bound by the terms of the default judgment.