Filing and getting a divorce can be a difficult period full of stress and highly-charged emotions. While some divorces move more quickly than others, there is always a specific legal process that must be followed. Part of this process includes going to court for a hearing when the judge reviews the separation agreement and asks both parties a series of questions before accepting the agreement to be included in the final divorce decree. Unfortunately, in some situations, one spouse may fail to attend this hearing.
If your spouse did not appear in divorce court, you may be unsure about what your next steps should be. With over 35 years of exclusive family law experience, our attorneys have seen situations like these. O’Connor Family Law can help you through the process of holding your spouse in contempt.
What Happens If a Spouse Does Not Come to a Divorce Court Hearing?
In certain states, when both spouses agree, the person who is not filing for divorce may not be required to come to the court hearing. However, in Massachusetts, both spouses have an obligation to appear in divorce court whether they agree on the terms of the separation agreement or not.
Unless a rare exception applies that leads the judge to grant the non-appearing party a waiver, an individual may be held in contempt for failure to appear at a divorce hearing. Being found in contempt could result in several punishments for the noncompliant party, including steep fines, imprisonment, and modifications to custodial and visitation arrangements.
In the majority of cases, one spouse’s nonappearance at court could result in the judge refusing to hear a divorce case. This can be very frustrating if you have an attorney and you are paying fees or if you’ve had to take a day off of work that you’re not getting paid for. In cases where your spouse fails to appear to a divorce hearing and there is not a good reason for it, you may ask the Court to award you attorney fees or pay for the time you missed at work.
Contact Our Attorneys If Your Spouse Failed to Appear in Divorce Court
If your spouse did not appear in divorce court, our lawyers at O’Connor Family Law can explain your legal options and potential recourse. To learn how our firm can help you, reach out today.