What Is an Entry of Default for a Legal Separation?

by Beverly Bird

A default in any type of litigation is a failure to respond when you're notified that someone is suing you. You might do so if you don't care about the result of the lawsuit, or if you feel that you have no valid defense. If your marriage is ending and your spouse files court papers for a legal separation, it could be a big mistake to allow an entry of default in the case.

Legal Separation

Legal separation is not recognized in all states. Among states that do recognize this legal concept, some do not require that you involve the court system. In many jurisdictions, legal separation occurs when you and your spouse agree to, and execute, a separation agreement. In others, you must file a complaint or petition with the court, seeking a decree of legal separation. An entry of default can only occur if you live in a state where you must file with the court for a legal separation.

Entry of Default

Just as if your spouse filed for divorce, in a legal separation proceeding, she must officially serve a copy of the complaint on you. After this occurs, you have a limited window of time within which to act, usually by filing your own written response with the court and serving a copy of that document on your spouse. If you do nothing, your spouse can request an entry of default at the expiration of the time period. The court will typically grant her request if you've done nothing to indicate that you want involvement in the legal action. If this occurs, your spouse may receive whatever relief she requested in her complaint.