Sometimes one or both parties do not appear for a court hearing due to lack of notice, scheduling conflicts, or no desire to pursue the divorce. When one party appears and the other does not, a default judgment may be entered in favor of the party who appeared. However, when neither party shows up for divorce court, a couple different things can happen. This blog discusses the party’s failure to appear for a hearing in divorce court and what a judge may then do.
Generally, when neither of the parties appear for a final hearing, it is due to a lack of notice, meaning no one was aware that there was a hearing. If it is the first time that no one showed up for court, the judge will generally reschedule the hearing and have the clerk attempt to contact the parties to ensure that notice is sent to the correct addresses. When neither party shows up for divorce court for a second time, the case will likely be dismissed. Once dismissed, if either party still wants a divorce, they will have to start at the beginning, and file a new petition and pay another filing fee. However, what the judge will do if neither party appears can depend on what type of hearing was scheduled.
When divorcing, the court may set more than one hearing. Since there is a 60 day waiting period before a final hearing in a divorce can be held, many divorcing couples ask for a provisional hearing so that the judge can make temporary orders for property division, child custody, parenting time, child support, and spousal maintenance. If neither party show up for a provisional hearing, the court is likely to simply do nothing. No provisional orders will be entered, and the hearing will not be rescheduled unless and until one of the parties asks the court for another provisional hearing, or if 60 days has passed since the petition was filed, and a final hearing has been requested.
If provisional orders have been entered in a divorce, and one of the parties is violating those orders, the other can file a petition for contempt citation, asking that that the party violating the order be held in contempt of court. The court will then issue an order to show cause, ordering the party to appear in court and answer as to the contempt allegation. If neither party shows up for the contempt hearing, the court may dismiss the petition for contempt citation or it could find that the party against whom the petition was filed has failed to appear, after being ordered to do so, and issue a body attachment. A body attachment is simply a warrant that is issued in a civil case. Once the warrant has been served, the hearing will be rescheduled. A failure of the parties to appear at the second scheduled contempt hearing will most likely result in a dismissal of the petition for citation, but not of the entire divorce case.
Failing to appear in court is never a good idea. If you and your spouse have decided that you no longer wish to get divorced, you should file a joint motion to dismiss the case. This will prevent further hearings from being scheduled and help both you and your spouse avoid having a body attachment issued for failing to appear. In the case that you have reached an agreement with your spouse and simply no longer need a hearing, you should put your agreement in writing and file it with the court. When filing a settlement agreement you will need to make sure that is has been at least sixty (60) days since the petition for the divorce was filed and that a waiver of final hearing with both parties signatures is filed with the agreement, as well as a decree of dissolution of marriage.
If neither party show up for divorce court because notice was not sent to the proper addresses, you will need to call the court and give them the correct information so that you do not miss any more hearings. If your spouse appears for a hearing that you miss, the court may make a determination after only hearing your spouse’s side of the story. In other words, you could be bound by a default judgment.
This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. It is for general educational purposes. It is not intended to be relied upon for any legal matter or issue. The blog is not legal advice. This is an advertisement.