True Default Case

My Spouse/Partner DID NOT File a Response and We DO NOT Have an Agreement

This situation is called a “true default” because more than 30 days have passed since the petitioner (the spouse/partner that started the case) served the petition and summons, and:

  • The respondent (the other spouse/partner) did not file a response (so he or she “defaulted”),

                AND
  • There is no written agreement.

In this situation, the petitioner MUST follow these steps (after completing steps 1 – 4).

Alert! If your spouse or domestic partner is currently in the military, special rules apply under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. Talk to your family law facilitator, self-help center, or a lawyer. Click for help finding a lawyer.

Fill Out Your Final Forms

As the petitioner, you must turn in the final forms to the court asking for a judgment of divorce or legal separation and including the other orders you want the court to make about division of any property and debt, spousal or partner support, and, if you have children with your spouse or domestic partner, about custody, visitation, and child support.

You CANNOT file these final forms until at least 30 days have passed since you served your spouse or domestic partner with your summons and petition.

  1. Fill out your court forms
    Fill out these forms:

  2. If you are asking for custody orders, you can fill out any of the forms that may apply to your case
    Fill out the forms that apply, if any, and attach to your Judgment (Form FL-180):

  3. If you are asking for child support, fill out the applicable forms
    Fill out the forms that apply, if any, and attach to your Judgment (Form FL-180):
    • Child Support Information and Order Attachment (Form FL-342).
    • Income and Expense Declaration (Form FL-150) or a Financial Statement (Simplified) (Form FL-155);
    • Child Support Case Registry Form (Form FL-191);
    • Notice of Rights and Responsibilities — Health-Care Costs and Reimbursement Procedures and Information Sheet on Changing a Child Support Order (Form FL-192) (there is nothing to fill out with this form, but read it carefully);  
    • Income Withholding for Support (Form FL-195) (if you want your spouse’s or domestic partner’s wages garnished for child support). You can use the Income Withholding for Support - Instructions (Form FL-196). When filling out Form FL-195, make sure to only write the last 4 digits of the social security number of the person ordered to pay support – the law requires it to protect their privacy.

    Child support can become complicated. Talk to the family law facilitator in your court for help with these forms and any questions you may have.

  4. If you are asking for spousal or partner support, fill out the applicable forms
    Fill out the forms that apply, if any, and attach to your Judgment (Form FL-180):
    • Spousal or Partner Support Declaration Attachment (Form FL-157) – this form is optional, but by using it, you can make sure you give the judge all the information he or she will need, by law, to make a decision about spousal or partner support.
    • Spousal, Partner, or Family Support Order Attachment (Form FL-343);
    • Income and Expense Declaration (Form FL-150);
    • Earnings Assignment Order for Spousal or Partner Support (Form FL-435) (only if you are NOT also asking for child support). If you are asking for child support, you can include the spousal or partner support information for wage garnishments in Form FL-195. When filling out Form FL-435 or FL-195, make sure to only write the last 4 digits of the social security number of the person ordered to pay support – the law requires it to protect their privacy.

    Spousal or partner support can become complicated. Talk to the family law facilitator in your court for help with these forms and any questions you may have.

  5. If you are asking for an order dividing your community property and debt, fill out the applicable forms
    Fill out the forms that apply, if any, and attach to your Judgment (Form FL-180):
    • Property Order Attachment to Judgment (Form FL-345);
    • Property Declaration (Form FL-160);
    • Pension Benefits — Attachment to Judgment (Form FL-348) (if you or your spouse or domestic partner has a pension plan). And read Retirement Plan Joinder — Information Sheet (Form FL-318-INFO) to find out if you need to join the pension plan to your divorce case and how to do that. Read the section on Property and Debt for more information on pension plans.

    Property issues can become complicated. Talk to a lawyer for help with these forms and any questions you may have. If the family law facilitator or self-help center in your court helps with property issues in divorce cases, you can also talk to them. You can also get more information by reading the section on Property and Debt.

  6. Fill out local forms, if required
    Some courts ask you to fill out local forms. Contact your court clerk’s office, check your court’s website, or talk to your family law facilitator or self-help center to ask about your court’s local forms that you must complete for default cases.

  7. Have your forms reviewed
    Ask your court’s family law facilitator or self-help center to review your paperwork. They can make sure you filled it out properly before you move ahead with your case.

    You can also hire your own lawyer to review your papers or to get legal advice, either with your entire divorce case, or just the parts of it that you may need more help with (called “limited scope representation” or “unbundling”). Click for help finding a lawyer. Click to learn more about “limited scope representation.”

  8. Make at least 2 copies of all your forms
    Make sure you include all the attachments and, if any are double-sided, that you photocopy both sides. One copy will be for you; another copy will be for your spouse or domestic partner. The original is for the court.

  9. Turn in all your forms to the court clerk, with 2 large envelopes (with postage)
    Turn in your forms to the court clerk. The clerk will process your paperwork and give it to a judge to review.
    • Make sure you have already filed the Proof of Service of Summons (Form FL-115) (or file it now) AND the Declaration Regarding Service of Declaration of Disclosure (Form FL-141).
    • If all of the judgment documents are completed correctly, the judge will sign the Judgment without either named spouse or domestic partner having to appear in court.
    • If there is a problem with the documents, a court appearance may be necessary. Or you may just need to fix a mistake on your paperwork.

  10. You receive your final judgment
    A court clerk will mail the Judgment and Notice of Entry of Judgment to each spouse or domestic partner, with the date that the judgment was filed stamped in the upper right corner.
    • Keep a copy of these forms in a safe place. You may need them in the future.

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