Table of Contents:
- What Is a Default Judgment in Divorce in Michigan?
- How to Get a Default Judgment for a Divorce in Kentucky
Cornell University Law School defines a default judgment as a ruling made by the court when one side involved in the case does not complete a court-ordered task, which results in keeping the matter from being fully considered by the court and results in the court ruling against the side at fault.
Starting Divorce Proceedings
To start a divorce case in Michigan, a divorce complaint and summons must be submitted to the court, along with a $150 filing fee (and additional $80 Friend of the Court fee if minor children are involved). Upon filing, copies of the divorce complaint and summons must be provided to the defendant through certified mail or a process server. In consensual divorce cases, the defendant also can sign the back of the summons to acknowledge receipt of the documents.
After receiving the documents, the defendant receives a limited amount of time to respond to the complaint. If a process server delivered the divorce complaint and summons to the defendant, the answer period is three weeks (21 days); if delivered via certified mailed, the time frame for response is four weeks (28 days).
If after the appropriate amount of time has passed and the defendant, or his representative, has not responded to the divorce complain, Michigan law and its courts will grant a default judgment for the plaintiff. If this happens, the case is closed and the plaintiff "wins" the case.
Even if granted a default judgment in a Michigan divorce, the effect will not be immediate, as there is always a waiting period. However, the waiting period will begin the day the default judgment is entered, so this can speed it up a little.
The waiting period for a divorce to be final in Michigan depends on whether or not the couple has minor children together. If children are involved with the divorce, the court requires both parties to wait six months (180 days) before a judgment of divorce can be granted; however, if children are not present in the relationship, or if they are not minors, the waiting period is two months (60 days). In certain circumstances these waiting periods can be waived by the judge, but this is highly unlikely.
Download a petition for dissolution of marriage from the Legal Aid Network of Kentucky website, (kyjustice.org) or go to your county courthouse and ask the clerk of the circuit court for Form 1B if you have minor children, or Form 1A if you do not. You also need a case information data sheet, which is a thumbnail recap of the information you'll put in your petition, and a summons, which tells your spouse he has 20 days to answer your petition. Both are available on the state's website.
Fill out the petition, giving identifying information for you, your spouse and your children, if you have any, and telling the court how long you and your spouse have lived separate and apart. Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage is the only divorce ground available in Kentucky, and you must have lived apart for at least two months in order to file. The petition will also ask you to list the details of how you want to divide property and debt with your spouse, as well as your wishes regarding custody and visitation, if you have children.
Take your completed paperwork to the circuit court for filing. Ask the court clerk for a certificate of divorce. This form is available only at the courthouse when you file your petition. The clerk will tell you how to fill it out.
Go to the mail room at the courthouse when you leave the clerk; she can tell you where to find it. Deliver a stamped, filed copy of your paperwork to the mail room staff and the court will send it to your spouse via certified mail, restricted delivery.
Prepare a motion for default judgment and decree of dissolution of marriage if your spouse does not file an answer to your petition within 20 days. The motion includes a default certificate, which is a sworn statement by you that you served your spouse with the petition via the court, and a military affidavit, stating that he is not in the military. If he is, the Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act may protect him from default, so you should consult an attorney. All of these forms are available on the state's website.
File your motion with the court. The clerk will give you a date for a hearing and give you a copy of your paperwork to take to the mail room and send to your spouse, notifying her of the date as well. You must appear in court at the appointed time for the judge to sign your certificate of divorce and grant you your divorce.