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I am a defendant in an uncontested divorce and the plaintiff is out of the country. Does he have to appear in court?

Boston, MA |

No children or community property involved. His answer was filed before he left and he agreed. No alimony is requested. Will he be in trouble if he doesn't appear in court?

Sorry I am actually the plaintiff and the defendant lives in another country. Does he have to show for the court appearance?

Attorney Answers 5

  1. If the Plaintiff doesn't appear-either personally or through an attorney and has their appearance waive via a motion to the Court, the case may be dismissed and then you will have to start over. In order to avoid this, you should consult an attorney to ensure that the agreement is complete and signed, and that you have filed a counter-claim so even if the Plaintiff doesn't appear you can go forward and obtain the divorce. Best of luck.

    This answer is intended for general informational purposes, and does not create an attorney-client relationship.

  2. If the Plaintiff does not appear and you have not filed a counterclaim for divorce then the matter will likely be dismissed. You might consider talking to your spouse about seeking a continuance on the hearing until he is back in the area. If he is not planning on coming back to the area then you can waive his appearance by motion and submit your separation agreement.


    Karla Mansur, Esq.
    Law Office of Karla M. Mansur, LLC
    81 Middle Street
    Concord, MA 01742
    P: (978) 341-5040 / F: (978) 401-0687

  3. Your post- question comment mentioned that you are the plaintiff. Therefore, you may proceed with the divorce hearing. If you have a Separation Agreement that he and you signed, which reflects all the terms of your divorce, then you may present this document to the judge. The judge will decide whether to proceed without him or reschedule the court date. The best option is for him to sign an affidavit explaining the reason he cannot appear in court and his wish that you proceed. You should consult with an attorney to help you with the divorce agreement, if necessary, and affidavit. Good Luck.

    DISCLAIMER: The information contained herein, and the receipt or transmission of same does not constitute or create an attorney-client relationship and the information provided does not constitute full analysis of any specific matter.

  4. My advice would be to make sure that your spouse hires an attorney. An attorney can represent his interests here and possibly waive his appearance at divorce, assuming your divorce paperwork is all in order. If he was the plaintiff, I'm not clear on why he filed an answer. Obtain legal representation to get this done.

    Christopher Vaughn-Martel is a Massachusetts lawyer with the firm of Vaughn-Martel Law in Boston, Massachusetts. All answers are based on Massachusetts law and the limited facts presented by the questioner. All answers are provided to the general public for educational purposes only and no attorney-client relationship is formed by providing an answer to a question. To schedule a consultation with a lawyer, and obtain advice and review of your specific legal issue, please call us today at 617-357-4898 or visit us at

  5. Your spouse may want to hire an attorney in Massachusetts to appear on his behalf and ask the court to waive your spouse's appearance. The attorney will need to present a motion and affidavit, along with your spouse's other signed documents. Good luck!

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