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Unintentionally missed divorce court date, what is going to happen?

Raleigh, NC |

Ex-wife mailed the notice to appear in court 2 days before the court date. The paper states it should be mailed 30 days in advance. I received the the notice on my court date. What will happen and /or what can I do?

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Attorney answers 2


As a general rule, you have to be served before a court will take any action in your case. If your case file does not show you were served, the court is likely to continue the matter for a few weeks to get documentation of service.

If the file shows you were served with the original legal papers (complaint and summons), but you didn't get notice about this court date in time, the court should continue the case for a few more weeks. On the other hand, with a little fast talking your ex may be able to convince the judge that you didn't show up because you don't care about the case, so he/she will grant the divorce in your absence.

North Carolina is a no-fault divorce state. If you two have lived apart for at least one year with the intent of staying separate, the court will pretty much automatically grant divorce. If the judge didn't do so this time, he/she almost certainly will grant the divorce next time.

If you have additional legal issues outstanding - custody, support, alimony or property distribution - you may want to check with the court clerk to make sure the judge did not make any final decisions about these. If you want to get any decisions changed, you probably have only a few days to make your objection known to the court. Good luck.


You need to find out what, if anything, occurred on the designated Court date.

You can do this by calling the office of the Clerk of Court for the County in which the lawsuit is pending. (Be sure to have your case file number handy so that you can give that to the person with whom you will speak. The Case file number will look something like this: 09 CVD 1234. The first 2 digits signify the year in which the lawsuit was filed, CVD stands for Civil District Court and the other numbers are the actual identifying numbers for the case.) Explain your situation to the person with whom you speak to find out what, if anything, happened on the court date. For example, was the matter continued to another specific date, was a substantive order entered, etc..

Once you have information from the Clerk's office, it would be very wise to make an appointment with a family law attorney in the county where the lawsuit is pending to obtain advice specifically tailored to your situation. Good luck.