It happens all too often. A husband or wife receives a certified mail summons with a complaint. Your spouse has filed for divorce. They’re overwhelmed, scared, and don’t know what to do. They end up doing the one thing they absolutely cannot do. They just ignore it.
The Big Picture
First, it is important to remember that it does not matter whether you are the person who filed for divorce or the respondent (the other party). In other words, your spouse is not in a better position because he or she is the one who filed for divorce. Ohio law provides four ways for a husband and wife to end or alter their marital relationship: legal separation, divorce, dissolution of marriage, and annulment. Ohio is a hybrid state which means you can obtain a no–fault divorce, but a fault divorce is also an option if your spouse’s actions caused the end of your marriage. In a no-fault divorce, one spouse does not need to prove the other cheated or is otherwise at fault.
You Must Take Action
Attorneys frequently hear excuses from clients explaining why they ignored a divorce complaint. Some say they were “too busy” to respond. Others thought their spouse would treat them “fairly.” Still others thought it didn’t matter because they weren’t married for a very long time. None of these “excuses” are good ones. If you ignore a divorce filing, you are putting yourself at risk that:
- The case will be set for a non-contested default hearing;
- Your spouse’s lawyer will submit a final decree of divorce for the court’s approval;
- Little or no inquiry will be conducted by the judge to determine if the order is fair and equitable;
- No one will be there to protect your rights or interests;
- The divorce will be granted according to the unchallenged testimony of your spouse; and
- Your ability to challenge the final divorce decree will be very restricted.
Don’t bury your head in the sand. If you believe your spouse has filed for divorce, it is imperative that you immediately confer with an experienced divorce attorney. Protect your rights by calling the divorce attorneys at Wuliger & Wuliger at (216) 781-7777.