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What Is a Divorce by Default Judgment on Long Island?

by | Feb 25, 2020 | Divorce Long Island, NY

Divorces can play out in any number of ways. One of those is a default divorce or a default divorce judgment. Here’s what you should know about this type of divorce and how you can get help legally dissolving your marriage.

Default Judgement Divorces Explained

There are two kinds of default divorces on Long Island:

  • A default judgment issued when the defendant does not respond to the divorce petition within the required amount of time
  • The finalization of an uncontested divorce

Typically, the former of the two contexts is the most commonly referred to as a Default Judgement. When a plaintiff files for divorce and the defendant fails to respond after every effort is made to notify them of the petition, the court has no choice but to move forward, usually with the terms requested by the plaintiff.

Pros and Cons of Divorce by Default

There are many benefits and drawbacks to receiving a default divorce judgment:


  • A divorce by default typically costs less than a contested divorce.
  • Defendants do not have to provide information about their finances in a default divorce.
  • Litigation is bypassed and confidentiality and privacy are maintained.
  • The defendant is typically given a period of time after the judgment to request a court to overturn or set-aside a default judgment.
  • The plaintiff is usually granted their requested divorce terms, within reason.


  • The defendant forfeits their right to have a say in property division, alimony, and child custody matters.
  • The petitioner must provide their financial information, including income, assets, and debts.
  • The petitioner must go above and beyond to show that they attempted to serve the divorce petition to the defendant.
  • If the defendant contests the divorce at any point, even for a short time after the default judgment is issued, both parties must start back the beginning of their divorce.

How to Pursue a Divorce by Default

To pursue a divorce by default on Long Island, you must first file for divorce. Because New York is a no-fault divorce state, your ex cannot contest the divorce itself unless you filed specifically stating another ground/s for divorce, such as adultery. Many people mistakenly believe that they can contest a divorce they don’t agree with by simply not responding, such as if their partner wants to dissolve their marriage while they’d rather work on it. However, this only serves to rob defendants of their rights in the divorce.

Your spouse has 20 days to respond after they are served, and you can file a request for a default judgment to be issued 45 days after the deadline has passed. Your spouse must be properly served with the divorce petition, which may be difficult if they’re purposely attempting to dodge service. You may need to attempt several forms of service to show that every effort was made to make your ex aware of the divorce proceedings.

In the request for a default divorce judgment, you’ll also request all the terms of the original complaint to be included. Essentially, this allows you to decide how you want to proceed with property division, child custody, and other important divorce matters. Your request will either be granted or denied. If granted, the terms of the complaint become the final divorce decree.

When You Should Contact a Long Island Family Lawyer

While a divorce by default is often simpler than a contested divorce — and in some cases, even simpler than an uncontested divorce — it’s still critical to work with an experienced divorce lawyer who can advise you of your legal rights and options. You’ll receive guidance throughout the process of pursuing a default judgment, including helping you make the necessary attempts to have your spouse served with the divorce complaint.

Whether you are the spouse pursuing a default judgment or the one who has received a divorce complaint and are contemplating not responding, it’s in your best interest to consult with an attorney who will help you work toward the goals you identify.

Is divorce by default the right choice for your family? Call Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. today to learn more about default divorce judgments on Long Island or to schedule your free initial consultation at 631-923-1910.

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