Does the Plaintiff Have to Show Up in a Divorce?

By Anna Green

State laws regarding divorce often differ significantly. Further, rules on who must attend hearings vary based on the nature of the individual case. In some jurisdictions, the plaintiff, or party who is filing for divorce, does not need to attend the final hearing provided the couple agrees on the terms of the divorce. In other states, the plaintiff must attend but not his or her spouse. In some cases, both spouses must attend the final hearing.

Fault and No Fault Divorce

In a no-fault divorce, neither party has to establish their spouse acted in a way that led to the divorce. In a fault divorce, however, one spouse must prove that the other party committed adultery, abandonment, cruelty or some other action that led to the breakdown of the marriage. At present, all states have some form of no-fault divorce. No-fault divorce can be quicker and simpler than fault divorce since neither party has to present evidence to establish their spouse performed an act or omission that contributed to the present marital circumstances. In most fault divorce cases, both the plaintiff and his spouse must attend the hearing.

Uncontested Vs. Contested Divorce

In an uncontested divorce, both spouses agree to dissolve the marriage. Further, in such divorce cases, both spouses agree on the major material issues, including child custody, division of assets, division of property and financial support payments. In a contested divorce, either one party does not agree to the divorce or the spouses cannot reach agreement on one or more major issues. In contested divorces, the court may require the couple to attend mediation to resolve their disputes. In cases where mediation does not work, the court may hold a trial to resolve the material issues in the case. Both spouses generally must attend these trials, which can be lengthy and costly, as the spouses will need to present evidence and call witnesses to support their respective cases.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Plaintiffs in Uncontested Divorces

In uncontested divorce cases in states such as Pennsylvania, Georgia and New York, it is possible for the judge to grant a couple a divorce without either party attending the final hearing. In other states, including Tennessee and Arizona, only the plaintiff must attend the final hearing in an uncontested divorce case.

Simplified Divorce

Some states offer simplified divorces for no-fault, uncontested divorce cases for couples with few assets, explains the State Bar of California. In Florida, Illinois and Montana, both spouses must attend the hearing to obtain a simplified divorce. In California, however, neither party needs to attend the final hearing to receive a simplified divorce.

Locating State Laws

Couples can begin to research their state's laws, procedures and rules by contacting the office of the court clerk in the county where they reside. Although court clerks cannot provide legal advice, they can give couples general information on the divorce process. Attorneys, low-income legal aid bureaus and online legal document preparation services can also help divorcing couples find state-specific resources.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Can I Still Get a Divorce if My Spouse Does Not Show Up at the General Magistrate Hearing?


Related articles

Can a Wisconsin Judge Order Marriage Counseling Before Granting a Divorce?

The procedures for divorce in Wisconsin are similar to those of other states. One of the spouses must file an initial petition; the couple must also draw up a marital settlement agreement and attend a public hearing. State law allows only for "irretrievable breakdown" of the marriage as valid grounds for divorce. In the interest of avoiding divorce, if possible, Wisconsin also permits the presiding judge to recommend or order marriage counseling.

How to File a Motion to Remove a Judge in a Divorce Case in Connecticut

Judges are randomly assigned to a case by the clerk of the court and are required to be fair and impartial. However, in certain circumstances, it may be necessary to seek the disqualification of an assigned magistrate presiding over divorce proceedings. The Connecticut Code of Judicial Conduct sets forth circumstances in which a judge may be disqualified from service, including bias, prejudice, having a familial or monetary interest in the case, or hearing the same divorce proceeding after the judge's decision was overturned on appeal. To seek a judge's removal, you must file a motion with the court.

What Is the Cost to File Divorce Papers in Louisiana?

If you are seeking a divorce in Louisiana, you must file a petition in the parish court and pay a filing fee. The petition sets the case in motion; eventually, the court will schedule a hearing to approve the divorce settlement. Louisiana has residency requirements for people seeking a divorce as well as laws governing how property should be divided and the amount of alimony and/or child support that one party owes the other.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

What Happens During a Divorce Hearing in Florida?

A divorce can feel like a lengthy or intimidating process, especially if spouses have a contested case that requires ...

Divorce Dismissal Facts in Florida

Obtaining a divorce means severing a legal relationship. As such, rigid legal rules and procedures come into play. In ...

What Happens If Divorce Papers Go Unsigned?

During the divorce process, the court and individual spouses’ attorneys ask both parties to sign agreements, petitions ...

Do I Have to File an Answer to a Complaint in a Divorce in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, either spouse can file for divorce by completing a divorce complaint. The divorce complaint will state ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED