Do you have to appear in court for divorce? Probably not, if you and your spouse can agree to all terms of the divorce: child custody and visitation, property division, spousal and child support etc. When the parties agree, the case can usually be settled as a non-contested divorce without ever appearing before a judge. A Marriage Settlement Agreement (MSA) is presented to the court for approval by the judge that outlines all the specifics of the above items. The judge will grant the Final Judgment incorporating all the elements of the MSA without ever seeing the parties in person.
If you and your spouse cannot or do not agree and your spouse does not file a Response to the Petition for divorce, it is possible to get a unilateral Judgment by default. There is extra paperwork that the court will need if there are issues that must be addressed in the Judgment such as child support, child custody and visitation, or the division of community property and debt. A party still will not have to appear in court to get a Judgment, but it will be up to the Judge to sign and approve the proposed Judgment terms because the court wants to be sure that the party who has not appeared in the case is being treated fairly and equitable.