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Filing for Default in Divorce and Custody Cases

What is a default?

If the defendant does not answer the plaintiff's complaint, the plaintiff can finish the case without the defendant's participation by requesting the court to enter a "default.” Because the defendant didn't answer, the plaintiff is able to get a one-sided judgment.

When can I file for default?

If the other party does not file an answer within 20 days of being served your complaint, you may ask the court to default the other side and grant you everything you asked for.

To do this, you must have proof that you served the other party according to the rules.

How do I prove to the court that I served the other party according to the rules?

After you serve someone, you will get one of the following back:

Either one of these is called your proof of service. Whichever one you get, keep it in a safe place.

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What forms do I use to file for default?

After 20 days, you may file the Default Application, SHC-400 (Word | PDF) along with your proof of service at the same courthouse that you filed the complaint. You should tape the green card from the post office to the Proof of Service, SHC-405 (Word | PDF).

You must send the defendant a copy of the Default Application. You can send by first class U.S. mail or hand deliver, unless there is a domestic violence protective order in effect which states how to serve the opposing party.

Check with your local court to find out whether they will contact you or you need to contact them to schedule the default hearing.

Many courts also require that you file the final documents at this time so that all the paperwork is complete at the time of your hearing. Therefore, you will need to fill in everything BUT the judge's signature on the following set of forms. Submit the completed forms to the court with the default application. Select the set that applies to your situation:

Custody Case (unmarried parents with children)

Divorce with Children & Property (Long, i.e. property or debt to be divided by the court)

Divorce with Children & Property (Short, i.e. no property or debt to be divided by the court)

Divorce with Property But No Children (Long, i.e. property or debt to be divided by the court)

Divorce with Property But No Children (Short, i.e. no property or debt to be divided by the court)

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What happens at the default hearing?

The Judge will go over your complaint and all attachments and ask you some questions to verify that a default can be entered. Some of the common reasons that a default is not granted at this hearing include the following:

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How can the court figure out child support in a default case?

It depends on how much information is known and which court your case is in because some courts handle the child support differently in default cases.

Provide the court with information about the noncustodial parent’s income and work history if you know it. The court may issue a child support order based on the information you provide.

If you have a case open with CSSD, some courts will request that CSSD provide the court with information about the noncustodial parent’s earnings. The court may use that information to calculate child support.

If your case is in the Fairbanks court, you can file a motion requesting that the court ask CSSD to provide information about the non-custodial parent’s earnings, along with a proposed order if you have an open CSSD case or apply for CSSD services:

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What happens if the defendant files an answer after the court entered a default but before a default hearing?

If the court has entered the default or set a hearing for the default, the defendant has to ask the court to set aside the default and accept a late answer:

Please read the information about serving the opposing party.

If the court finds good cause and grants the defendant's motion, the case will move forward with both parties having the opportunity to participate.

If the defendant files the answer without a Motion & Affidavit to Set Aside Entry of Default, the court may not take any further action regarding the answer and continue the default process. In a default hearing when the defendant does not appear the court considers only the plaintiff's complaint when issuing a judgment in the case.

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Can a default judgment be set aside?

Yes, within one year the defendant may submit a Motion to Set Aside Default Judgment along with an affidavit and proposed order. The motion should explain why the court should set aside the default judgment, stating the specific reasons according to Civil Rule 60(b). Please see the motion practice page for more information on filing motions.

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Rev. 12 August 2013
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