Default/Uncontested Process

If you do not respond to your spouse or partner's petition for divorce or separation or you file a response but reach an agreement, your case will be considered either a "default" or an "uncontested case." In a “true default” case, you are giving up your right to have any say in your divorce or legal separation case. Before you choose this option, make sure you read the papers your spouse or domestic partner filed very carefully. What your spouse or partner asked for in his or her papers is probably going to be what the court orders. Click to read about what your spouse or domestic partner will have to do in a "true default" situation

Most people, however, want to take part in the decisions that are going to be made about their future. Whether you decide to not respond but get a written notarized agreement with your spouse/partner or you choose to file a response and reach an agreement with your spouse or domestic partner afterward, you will be involved in the case and will participate in the decisions that are made in your divorce or legal separation.

Working Out an Agreement With Your Spouse or Domestic Partner

Whether you choose to respond or not to your spouse’s or domestic partner’s petition for divorce or legal separation, you can still work out an agreement.

In your agreement, you can both agree to end your marriage or domestic partnership. You can also agree about:

  • How to divide your property and your debt,
  • Whether anyone will pay the other spousal or partner support, and
  • What child support and custody and visitation orders you will need, if you have children together.

You may be able to reach an agreement on all of these issues, or only some of them.  When you sign the agreement, make sure that you understand everything you are agreeing to. For some issues, like child support, when you have an agreement you have to meet certain legal requirements, so make sure you follow the rules. Read about child support agreements.

You should also get more information about spousal or partner support and custody and visitation agreements. You can get some information on this website. Click on the topic that you are interested in:

If you have questions or want to make sure the agreement is in your best interest (and that of your children if you have children), talk to a lawyer before you sign it. Click for help finding a lawyer.

If your court’s family law facilitator or self-help center helps with divorces, ask them for help too. Even if they cannot help you with the divorce itself, they may be able to help you with parts of it, like the child support and spousal or partner support.

Click to find out what steps you and your spouse/partner will need to take to complete your divorce or legal separation when:

If you are not sure if you and your spouse/partner will be able to work out an agreement, but you want to make sure you have a say in how the case proceeds, follow the instructions to file a Response, and work on trying to reach an agreement afterward. 

If you do not think you and your spouse/partner will be able to work out an agreement, click for more information on contested cases.

If You Decide to File a Response (and Have, or Want to Work Out, an Agreement)

You can file a Response and still work out an agreement with your spouse or domestic partner. Make sure you file your Response within 30 days of being served with the Petition. This is considered an "uncontested” case.

To fill out a Response and actively participate in the case, follow these steps: