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What if my spouse changes their mind or doesn't show up at trial for an agreed upon contested divorce?

Pittsfield, MA |

The date and time has been set and proper paperwork has been filled out.There are no children and no arguments over property or finances.

Could a lawyer be retained without my knowledge, and what do I if this has happened?

Am I, in fact, out of luck by my spouses choice to not be present at the court hearing?

Attorney Answers 3


If your spouse retains an attorney, that attorney should notify you prior to the court hearing. My question is how you filed the divorce, was it a joint petition, (also called a 1A divorce)?

If it was, then you both need to be at the hearing for the divorce to enter that day. If your spouse does not show up, then the court cannot enter the divorce (if a joint petition) and you would probably have to refile under what is called a 1B.

If you have a court date and have filed everything, and have not heard from an attorney that is representing your spouse, you should appear at the hearing and see what happens. If the court cannot enter the divorce because your spouse fails to show (and all paperwork is in order, showing you spouse was aware of the hearing and properly served all paperwork), then you should talk to an attorney about how to refile.

Now, if it was filed under a 1B and all proper notice was given to your spouse, the court can enter a judgment of divorce, even if they do not show up. If you are unsure which scenario fits your case, I would suggest talking to an attorney before the court date.

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An attorney can always be hired. Your spouse is not required to tell you about this, and the attorney can just show on the date of the hearing. An unexcused failure to show at trial can result in an adverse decision toward the defaulting party.

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Generally, this would depend upon what stage your case is at. If, for example, this is a pre-trial hearing or a trial, a judge can (and often will) order the case to an immediate trial, which will result in you getting a divorce and the allocation of assets in the manner you want them. However, if this is a hearing for temporary orders, many judges will continue the hearing and also contact the other party. You are not out of luck, but your case may be delayed. As for whether or not an attorney can be brought in, the attorney has to file a notice of appearance and that notice will state they are going to be involved in the case. The attorney will then have an obligation to be present at any hearing that is scheduled before the Court.

Good luck and best wishes.

Don Pitman

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