Sometimes spouses don’t have anything to do with a divorce case. There are many reasons…maybe they don’t agree with the divorce, maybe they don’t want to spend any money or take the time to worry about, or maybe it is some other reason. Whatever the reason, my client wants to know what will happen if their spouse does not respond to the court papers. Can they move on and get their divorce anyway? Will they be able to force their spouse to sign papers or come to court?
The answer is this: your spouse must be served with your Summons and Complaint for divorce. Once he/she is served with the divorce complaint he/she will have 30 days to respond by filing their answer. If your spouse fails to respond then they are in “default.” That means they have not responded to the complaint and are deemed to agree with what you alleged in your complaint. In civil court in South Carolina you would basically win automatically at this point. However, in South Carolina Family Courts your spouse still has the opportunity to put on evidence and defend claims on all issues with the exception of the grounds for divorce.
However, after the 30 days have elapsed and your spouse has gone into default, you can request a final hearing in your case. If your spouse does not come to court or does not contest any of the issues you will be able to obtain your divorce even though your spouse has not cooperated or responded in any way to the divorce papers you served them.