You may be familiar with the term “failure to appear” in the context of criminal cases. This happens when a person is charged with a crime and summoned to appear in court, and they do not do it. They are basically ignoring the charge in the hopes that it goes away. This is actually considered an additional crime in criminal cases. It will cause the court to issue a warrant for you to appear in court and you face additional penalties for failure to appear.

While failure to appear is usually associated with criminal cases, I have had a few divorce cases where failure to appear occurred. On this page, I will discuss failure to appear in divorce cases, also referred to as divorce by default, and why it is not a good idea.

Giving Notice in Divorce

One of the things that the concept of due process requires is for you to give notice to the other party that there is a lawsuit pending against. That’s what divorce is – a lawsuit against another party. In Connecticut we give notice to the party being served with divorce by way of a Marshal. If the party is out of state, we seek a specific order from the court to serve them by certified mail or publish the information in a newspaper. 

In some cases, people put their head in the sand and they don’t want to deal with the divorce for whatever reason. It is a bad idea to not deal with it, they should deal with it. But if somebody doesn’t show up and they’ve been given the proper notice, we can proceed with the divorce. We can get your divorce and get assets shared and split and support orders entered without the other party being there. 

So ignoring the divorce will not stop the case from proceeding. I’ve seen it happen very infrequently, but if it does happen, we can proceed with the divorce.

If on the other hand, you were served divorce papers and are ignoring them, I’d say that you shouldn’t. As you can see, the divorce will proceed anyway. You just won’t have a say in how everything is determined in your divorce if you fail to appear. Obviously, this would put you at a disadvantage because you won’t have a chance to fight for what you want.

Getting Help

If you are dealing with a failure to appear situation in your divorce, contact my office. I have seen this situation before and know how to proceed. For more information, give us a call.