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Missing a response deadline in a divorce may have consequences

In a divorce proceeding, the court may enter various judgments while the proceeding is ongoing.

Some of those judgments may be in response to papers served by one spouse on the other. As readers of this divorce and family blog are well aware, there can be numerous issues relating to a divorce. It makes sense, then, to expect that a divorce court might issue certain rulings or judgments in a proceeding as they arise. In fact, there could be numerous rulings before the final judgment of divorce.

What is clear, however, is that there could be consequences for failing to respond to any motions or papers served by another spouse during a divorce proceeding. A recent story illustrates this truth.

According to a recent filing, George Zimmerman is seeking the divorce court to set aside a judgment that resulted when he failed to respond to the divorce lawsuit. Zimmerman became a national news item because of certain criminal allegations, and his wife reportedly served divorce papers on him while he was in jail in September 2013.

Although it's now March 2014, Zimmerman's divorce proceeding is still ongoing. As a divorce attorney knows, there may be opportunities for requesting a court to modify its rulings, both before and after final entry of judgment. If the divorce proceeding has ended, such a request would be considered a post-divorce modification.

In this case, Zimmerman claims that his failure to timely respond wasn't his own fault because the papers were allegedly lost in jail. In his countersuit, Zimmerman is requesting the court to decide matters of personal property distribution. Zimmerman also hopes to avoid sole liability for debts incurred with his soon-to-be former spouse during their marriage.

Source: USA Today, "George Zimmerman responds to wife in divorce case," Feb. 13, 2014

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