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What Is a Divorce by Default?

Filing for divorce can be an emotionally complicated experience for both the petitioner and the respondent. Even spouses who agree about filing for divorce may struggle with the overall emotional, legal, and financial reality.

In less fortunate circumstances, petitioners may encounter hostility or resistance from spouses who refuse to accept or respond to the divorce paperwork. Without legal intervention, these resisting spouses may complicate and needlessly prolong the divorce process.

Luckily, Iowa offers petitioners “default” divorces if one spouse doesn’t want to actively participate in the process. Upon being served, the respondent has 20 days to file a response to the divorce petition. If the respondent fails or refuses to answer within this specified time, the petitioner can legally file a request to enter a default divorce. Once this request is filed, the court sets a hearing date to evaluate the divorce petition.

This petition can include the filing spouse’s requests regarding:

  1. Child custody
  2. Child or spousal support
  3. Asset and property division

The petitioner must be present for this hearing.

During the hearing, the court will make legal determinations regarding parenting plans, spousal support, and asset and property division. If the respondent fails to appear, they give up any legal right to influence or counter the court’s final judgement.

Retain Legal Representation

Iowa is a “no fault” state, which means that a petitioner doesn’t need to prove fault in order to file for divorce.  If you’re ready to start a new chapter in your life, contact the West Des Moines divorce lawyers at The Law Offices of Mark R. Hinshaw. Our attorneys can guide you through this emotional legal process, negotiate on your behalf, and represent your best interests in court. We can also help you pursue a default case if you have an uncooperative spouse.

Contact The Law Offices of Mark R. Hinshaw at (515) 200-7571 to schedule a free consultation.

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