What happens if one party does not participate in the divorce process?

The divorce law in Colorado states that one party, either Husband or Wife, can file for a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The filing party is known as the Petitioner and the responding party is known as the Respondent. In most family law cases, both the Petitioner and Respondent participate in the divorce case fully. However, in rare occasions, a party, Husband or Wife, chooses not to participate in the divorce process. In my experience, this can have potential severe outcomes for the non-participating party.

A few years ago, I helped a client, wife, file for a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with Minor Children. We were able to properly serve the husband the court documents in the case so that the court had jurisdiction over the parties. Both parties appeared at the initial status conference, but then after that, husband did not participate any further in the divorce. Husband did not file his sworn financial statement. Husband did not attend any of the court hearings. During the final orders hearing, my client, wife, was given a default judgment on all of the areas relevant to her case, parenting time, decision making, child support, spousal maintenance, and the separation agreement. Since we were able to prove the husband was properly served and had notice of the hearing, the court moved forward with the hearing.

Think about it this way:

If one party does not participate, they cannot cross examine you on the stand.

If one party does not participate, they cannot present their case.

If one party does not participate, they cannot have witnesses testify at a hearing.

If one party does not participate, they cannot present exhibits at a hearing.

If one party does not participate, they cannot participate at mediation.

On the other hand, depending on the judge or court you are in, they may make you have proof that the opposing party was properly served and notified of case hearings. I have presented proof of service documents, emails, certified mail, and affidavits to the court to show that the other party had notice of the case proceedings.

Just remember to have a strategic game plan in your case even when the other side chooses not to participate. Nothing is guaranteed in court, so come prepared and expect the unexpected.

If you have questions about divorce law or the divorce process, please reach out the Colorado Springs family lawyers at Springs Law Group. 

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