Your divorce judgment was rejected. Now what?
You spent hours poring over all of the forms necessary to finalize your divorce. You researched online, browsed a DIY book, and maybe even had a meeting or two with a lawyer.
Your spouse signed and had their signature notarized (which was a huge feat in and of itself). Then, you gathered your self-addressed stamped envelopes, made copies of your judgment, and took time out of your (busy) day to drive across town to the courthouse, stand in line, and submit your paperwork.
A few days, weeks, or months later, you receive an envelope from the court! Inside, you do not find your judgment. Instead, you find a letter from the court “rejecting your judgment.” Ugh! Sound familiar?
You’re not alone. We see hundreds of people each year who need help completing their divorce.
Hello Divorce CEO Erin Levine answers: My divorce judgment was rejected. What do I do now?
Here are some of the top reasons why divorce judgments are rejected and what you can do about it.
No Proof of Service
The summons and petition must be filed and served. A Proof of Service must also be completed and filed in your matter.
The best option for most people is to have someone 18 or older (who is unrelated to the action) serve the petition and summons personally by mail. Then, have your spouse sign a Notice and Acknowledgement of Receipt (NAOR) and file FL-115. If a (NAOR) was signed, file that, too.
Not using an optional form
The forms may say “optional,” but unless you have a Stipulated Judgment or Marital Settlement Agreement that’s absolutely PERFECT, you must complete these forms. The most important ones are FL-345, FL-341, FL-342, and FL-343.
No copies and postage
Is this 1970? Yes.
You must bring with you two copies (one duplicate, plus the original), large self-addressed stamped envelopes, and enough postage for each envelope. Address one envelope to the petitioner and one to the respondent.
Judgment exceeds requests in petition
If your judgment is by default (the other party did not file a response, and you are not submitting a written agreement to the court with your judgment), you may not request an “order” that exceeds the request you made in your Petition.
For example, let’s say you checked the box in your petition that you wanted the court to reserve jurisdiction over the issue of spousal support. (In other words, you want to give the court the ability to order support at a later date.) But then, you checked the box in your judgment for termination of support. (In other words, the court will never have the ability to order support.)
Your judgment will likely be rejected.
Not enough information
If you ask the court for orders regarding child support or spousal support, you must explain the basis for the number you chose, even if you and your spouse already agree.
What’s more, even if you’re not requesting support orders, you must explain to the court why not.
For example, if you earn $12,000 per month and your soon-to-be ex-spouse earns $2,000 per month, the court will want to know why you are not paying spousal support.
Maybe you had a super short marriage. Maybe your spouse lives with their loaded parents who foot all bills. Maybe your spouse inherited a million dollars. Regardless, at the risk of it TMI, tell the story.
Judgment checklist and legal coaching
To make sure you have completed all the necessary forms, check out the judgment checklist here.
Yet another way to avoid the frustration of receiving a rejected judgment is to meet with one of our legal coaches prior to submission.