Tampa Default Divorce Attorney
Family & Divorce Lawyers
There are several ways that a default final judgment can be obtained in a divorce or other family law matter, one of which is when the respondent does not respond timely to service of the petition. Since 1997, the family law and divorce lawyers at All Family Law Group, P.A. in Tampa have experience with all divorce and family law matters, whether they are complex or uncontested and we strive for the best representation.
No Timely Response When Served with Petition
In divorce and family law cases, the person who files the petition is known as the petitioner and the person against whom the case is filed is known as the respondent. The petition is filed with the court in the county in which the petitioner and respondent last resided together. The petition must be served by personal service upon the respondent at his or her address. A process server can be a private company designated to serve process in Florida or it may be done by a Sheriff Deputy.
Once the process server has served the petition on the respondent, then the process server will file a notice with the court signifying that service has been accomplished upon the respondent, at what address and at what date and time. When the respondent is served, he or she will receive a Summons which will give instructions to the respondent as to how he or she must proceed. The Summons will notify him or her that he or she has 20 days to file a response with the court and to send a copy of the response to the petitioner.
If the respondent does not respond within 20 days after the date of service, the petitioner may file a motion for clerk’s default and it will be entered by the clerk if there has been no response. Even if the respondent does not send the petitioner a copy of the response, since all divorce and family law pleadings are online, it is possible to determine whether or not the respondent has filed a response before submitting the motion for default to the clerk.
If the default is entered by the clerk, then the petitioner can proceed to finalize the case without including the respondent. He or she will have to be notified of the final hearing; however, the respondent is prohibited to file any responsive pleadings.
When there are no children, marital assets or debts, it is very simple to schedule an uncontested final hearing wherein you will receive what you are asking for in the final judgment which the petitioner prepares for the judge to sign. Essentially, it is that you will obtain a divorce. If there are children, marital assets or debt or alimony issues, then it will require a final hearing where testimony is heard by and evidence provided to the court concerning the children and other issues relevant to the case.
Setting Aside a Default
If a default is entered, the respondent may filed a motion to set aside the clerk’s default if the respondent wants to become active in the case. In general, the respondent must prove at a hearing before the court the following:
1) excusable neglect – i.e., being in a position where you cannot respond to the petition. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse;
2) meritorious defense – i.e, prove that you have a chance of benefiting from the case moving forward and especially if there are children involved; and
3) you acted with due diligence to seek relief from the default. In other words you acted quickly to request that the court set aside the clerk’s default.
Contact Our Divorce & Family Attorneys Now
If you have questions regarding divorce and family law, contact the experienced and trusted Tampa lawyers at All Family Law Group, P.A. We are committed to providing you with the best representation possible. Call 813-672-1900 or contact our firm online to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case and the options available to you.