• default divorce judgment california

How To Get a Default Divorce Judgment California

Couples that are able to obtain a California default divorce judgment usually either 1) have no issues that need to be addressed or resolved by the court or 2) have been able to work out an amicable divorce agreement between themselves. Sometimes, however, there are marital issues that need to be addressed and resolved, but the other side has not filed a Response nor cooperated with the Petitioner to work out an agreement. In all three situations it is possible to get a default divorce judgment by the court.

What is a Default Divorce Judgment?

A Default judgment is a binding judgment that is entered by the court in favor of a party due to a lack of action or failure to take action by the other party in the case. In most situations, the default judgment is in favor of the plaintiff or petitioner because the defendant or respondent has not responded to a summons. The failure of the other party to take action and to respond to the Summons is the “default.” The default judgment is the judgment that is entered by the court based on relief requested in the party’s original petition. In order for a court to render a default Judgment, the petitioning documents must set forth accurate, clear and concise details of all issues that the court will need to decide on. If the petitioning documents are deficient in this important information, the court may reject the plaintiff or petitioner’s request for a default judgment, and require the Petition be amended and the other party re-served.

Steps to a CA Default Divorce Judgment

The first step to obtaining a California default divorce judgment is to file the initiating Petition paperwork to start the process. A Petition for divorce, legal separation or annulment is filed with the court and the court issues a case number. All future documents filed in the divorce proceeding must refer to the assigned case number.

Once a case has been filed, the Petitioner must formally serve their spouse with the divorce, legal separation or annulment paperwork. When the other party has been served, this starts the clock running and sets the timeline for when a default divorce judgment can be submitted to the court.

After service of the initiating documents, the other party has 30 days within which they can file a Response. During this time, the Petitioner should comply with the mandatory disclosure requirements and serve their spouse with a Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure, Schedule of Assets and Debts and Income and Expense Declaration. This first preliminary disclosure is absolutely mandatory for the Petitioner. The second disclosure requirements and the need to file a Final Disclosure can be waived.

If no Response is filed by the other  party, on the 31st day a Request to Enter Default can be submitted along with the other documentation and mandatory forms required to have the court enter a default divorce judgment.

Default Divorce Hearing

Although a default divorce hearing is not typically required, on occasion a judge will refuse to sign a default judgment based on the paperwork submitted. In this situation, you may need to ask for a formal hearing before the judge to proceed with the default judgment. Sometimes the court may decide that the initiating Petition was deficient and did not contain sufficient factual and supporting information to enable the court to enter a default judgment. In this unfortunate situation, the judge may ask that the Petition be amended and re-served on the other party to give more detailed information.

An annulment always requires a hearing and the court will not enter a default judgment without formal, in-court testimony.

Choose A People’s Choice To Help With Your California Default Divorce Judgment

A People’s Choice has over 35 years experience helping people successfully navigate the complex California court system. We can help you avoid many of the pitfalls that end up with the court rejecting your default divorce judgment. Whether you are just starting the divorce process or trying to fix a default divorce judgment that has been rejected by the court multiple times, we can get your divorce on track for a quick processing of your final judgment paperwork. Contact us today. You will be surprised just how reasonable it is to get our professional help!

Get help with your California legal documents today!

A People’s Choice can save you hundreds of dollars by preparing your legal documents instead of an expensive attorney!


We would love to know your thoughts on this article. Connect with us over on Google+ or Twitter and join the conversation

By |2018-01-18T15:47:27-07:00July 26th, 2015|Family Law|16 Comments

About the Author:

Sandra M. McCarthy, founder of A People’s Choice Inc., has worked exclusively in the legal field since 1976. She served as the 2004-2005 President of CALDA (California Association of Legal Document Assistants). She obtained a Paralegal Certificate from the University of California, Santa Barbara. During her career in the legal field, she has worked as a freelance paralegal, law office manager and paralegal studies teacher, and has co-authored numerous legal publications and written hundreds of self-help legal articles. As a registered Legal Document Assistant, Sandy is dedicated to providing affordable, low-cost, self-help document preparation services for California consumers in all 58 counties.


  1. Genny March 14, 2019 at 6:58 am

    Hi, may I ask, I am a Filipina married to an american in Las Vegas April 2018, He decided to live and retire in my country. However after 8 months of marriage and got his permanent residency, he found another woman(Filipina) and decided to move out and live with her. Now he is planning to file a divorce. He left a huge amount of debt in my credit card. I plan NOT to sign the divorce if he will not settle his unpaid bills. Can this be possible? Thank you.

    • Sandy McCarthy March 17, 2019 at 1:49 pm

      Hi Genny – You may want to reach out to an attorney for legal advice if you feel that your rights are being jeopardized and that you will be associated with a large amount of debt that should be shared.

  2. Emi November 1, 2018 at 8:11 pm


    So what if a wife files for dissolution of marriage and she is the petitioner of the divorce, but refuses to sign the final documents after the 6th month time period. Can the husband file for default marriage after the 31st day of her receiving the papers? Also how long would it take for the default divorce to be finalized and for them to be legally divorced? Speaking specially about the state of California.

    Thank you.

    • Sandy McCarthy November 2, 2018 at 7:46 pm

      A respondent cannot file default. You would need to file a Response and proceed through the divorce process.

  3. Corinthian September 15, 2018 at 4:45 pm

    Im the petitioner. We did outside mediation. He was served and didnt respond. Our papers was submitted in May. Ive been sick and didnt file the papers for default. Technically our 6months and a day would be Nov. Will it move forward and the judge signs off on it? Or will the default papers have to be submitted? If i dont turn in the papers how long do i have to get them in? Would he be able to turn in something to speed the process or is it my responsibility? Will the case just stay open for x amount of time?
    Thank You!!

    • Sandy McCarthy September 17, 2018 at 9:49 am

      The court does set status hearings on divorce cases and will eventually set the matter for dismissal, but that is ususally quite a ways down the road. If you need help getting the final judgment put together, give us a call.

  4. Juan September 9, 2018 at 3:59 pm

    How long does adefault divorce take

    • Sandy McCarthy September 9, 2018 at 7:00 pm

      There is no exact answer for this because it is all based on certain steps being completed.

  5. CP July 23, 2018 at 2:12 am

    I filled a long time ago, my spouse responded to the initial request but since has never responded he has not done the discovery part and disclosed his assets. I put in a request to respond in 30 days and went to court he didn’t show up. The court have another date to appear. We both didn’t appear. I had a medical issue and could not. My spouse said he wasn’t going. What else do I have to do to get a default judgment

    • Sandy McCarthy July 24, 2018 at 9:22 pm

      It hard to say without looking at the court docket to see where the case is at.

  6. Diane Allen July 6, 2018 at 3:03 pm

    How long does it take to get a default court date after a request for default is filed? In California

    • Sandy McCarthy July 6, 2018 at 8:46 pm

      You do not usually have a court date in a default case.

  7. Katie March 26, 2018 at 9:19 pm

    If Husband defaults does that mean the petitioner will get everything asked for in the petition?

    • Sandy McCarthy March 30, 2018 at 2:06 pm

      It could but not always. Courts will also look at fairness regarding division of community property and debt (and other issues) even before approving a default judgment.

      • Darlene October 25, 2018 at 9:24 pm

        What if the court did not look at fairness in dividing marital property and marital debt and judgment was signed by judge?

        • Sandy McCarthy October 25, 2018 at 9:37 pm

          I don’t offer opinions on “what if’s.” If you need help preparing legal documents we are here to help. But this is not a law office and as per California law governing our profession, we don’t give legal advice or offer legal opinions.

Comments are closed.

error: Alert: Content is protected !!