By: Stephen J. Plog
After over twenty years of practicing family law in the Denver area, I’ve seen all sorts of odd situations. The stories I could tell range from run of the mill tales of spouses behaving badly to the truly bizarre. Of course I cannot tell those stories due to the oath of confidentiality taken at the outset of my career. Perhaps one of the most bizarre things I have seen as an attorney is when one party fails to show for their final divorce hearing. Fortunately, I cannot recall one instance in which this has happened to one of my clients. I have have taken plenty of calls from potential clients calling after they’ve missed their hearing. The vast majority of the time they are calling when it’s frankly too late to fix things. The idea for this article flows from my reading a recent article online in which a used-to-be famous Hollywood start failed to show for his divorce hearing.
In some of these calls, there seems to be this misperception held by some people that if they fail to show up the court is somehow going to be looking out for them, going to be “fair,” or that the other side is going to go into the final hearing and ask for whatever their most recent settlement offer was. Sadly, it just doesn’t work that way. Firstly, pursuant to Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 55, a court can enter orders in default if a party fails to show up to court, or to take part in the process. However, missing one’s final divorce or child custody hearing takes not reading multiple documents warning a party that failure to show up may lead to adverse, default orders being entered against them. These warnings start at the outset of each case when the parties receive the court’s Case Management Order. In most Denver area court, the Case Management Order has language somewhere indicating that failure to show or take part may result in default orders being entered. Yet people fail to heed the warning. Continue reading