In this weeks video I want to talk some possible consequences if one fails to appear on a family law court date.
It's never a good idea to not show up for your court hearing in your divorce or custody case. Especially if you have an interest in what the outcome might be. Now if you don't have an interest in what the outcome might be meaning you don't care one way or the other it's still not necessarily a good idea not to show up.
A lot is going to depend on what type of hearing that you are not showing up for. In some cases if you don't show up for your family law hearing what the court could do is enter what is called a default judgement against you. What that means is that the court could give the other party all the relief that they are asking for.
If the other side is asking for sole custody or sole decision making and their asking to have the majority of the parenting time or they are asking for some outrageous of child support, it is possible that that person could get those things. Especially if you don't show up and make your case and defend whatever it is that you want.
So that's one scenario. Another scenario could be that the court could make orders against you that really prejudice you that is not based in fact or that the other party made up and as a result it could affect your life down the road.
A while back I once represented a man in his divorce proceedings and at some point we parted ways and he decided to represent himself. What he ended up doing was not showing up at a very important court hearing and the court entered orders against him for ridiculously high amounts in spousal maintenance on a monthly basis. We are talking like $6,000 a month.
My former client continued to miss court hearings and continued to ignore the court orders and before everyone knew it, he had amassed in arrears in the amount of $45,0000. And he continued to ignore the court's orders.
What the judge did was issue a civil arrest warrant for him and he was actually arrested and went to jail. He was a good person, a good father, had a well paying job, he was very intelligent so I am not really sure why he made the poor decision not to show up. He was put in jail for this huge amount of arrears and the court set a really high purge amount before he was able to get out of jail.
What that means is he had to pay tens of thousands of dollars for the judge to release him. Somehow he was able to get the money so he was able to get out of jail but it was a really hard lesson for him to learn.
So one, he had pay these these large amounts of alimony and ended up in jail. It is really difficult if the court has entered it's orders and you don't show up in court unless you have a good excuse to get the judge to change the orders or set aside the orders.
I've seen people who ignore the court's orders and they suffer some terrible consequence and they decide they want to do something about this and change whatever it is that the judge previously ordered but at that point it is too late. Because they had their opportunity to be heard and have their say and they just didn't take it.
So I really want you to think carefully before you make the decision to just not show up in your case. Even if you have decided you don't care if the other person gets what they want, think about entering an agreement with that other person. But my advice is don't just not show up for your custody or divorce hearing without letting the judge know you have come up with an agreement.
But if you don't have an agreement, then by all means show up in court and defend your position.