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Divorce Hearing No Show: What Happens if You or Your Spouse Don't Show Up?

Some people do allow their divorce to proceed without their participation. Reasons include apathy, guilt, fear, depression or because they are attempting to delay or stop the divorce.

This is never a good idea!

Failure to appear means you have skipped a scheduled court date without notifying the court. You can be charged with contempt of court, and the judge can issue a bench warrant for your arrest. You may also have to pay a fine.

While such measures don't usually happen in a divorce case, you still should always show up in court if required to do so.

Skipping your court hearing not only gives a bad impression but allows the other spouse to tell the court what they want.

If you aren’t there, you can’t disprove their story or defend your self! Once this testimony is part of the court record it becomes very hard to discredit later—because you didn’t show up in the first place to refute it!

Divorce and dissolution are considered to be two different things by the state of Ohio, so not showing up at a hearing depends on the situation.


In a dissolution, the couple negotiates the terms of the settlement outside the court and then files paperwork outlining the terms. The result is the same as divorce, the termination of their marriage.

A dissolution requires both spouses to appear in court for a hearing to confirm that the terms set out in their paperwork—known as a separation agreement—are agreeable to both of them.

If either spouse is unable or unwilling to appear in court, the state of Ohio no longer considers the case to be dissolution and the spouse who is present must file for a divorce.

If you would like to learn more about dissolution, head over to our helpful resources section on dissolutionYou'll find many great resources here. I would also suggest reading this quick article on Legal Separation. 

Uncontested Divorce

If spouses can agree to the terms of their divorce but one of them doesn’t want to make a court appearance, the couple can proceed with an uncontested divorce.

Either spouse can initiate an uncontested divorce by filing a complaint in their local county court.

Before the filing for divorce, the parties must both enter into a separation agreement that sets forth the rules for issues as property division, debt payment, child custody, and spousal support. They are also required to make full financial disclosure to the other party.

The spouse who did not initiate the divorced signs a wavier or service and agrees that a divorce should be granted on the terms of the separation agreement. The non-filing spouse is then not required to appear for a court hearing.

Contested Divorce

gavel and rings

If you and your spouse are unable to agree on every issue, you file what is known in the state of Ohio as a contested divorce. Not showing up for a contested divorce hearing is one of the worst things you can do.

This may slow down the process but the state will grant still the divorce, more likely in the favor of the person who showed up at the court hearing.

Learn more about your divorce options in our helpful resources section or contact Jack for a free phone consultation.


While not showing up to your hearing can delay your divorce proceedings, it will not stop your divorce from proceeding. The courts of Ohio do not allow one spouse to refuse to divorce if the other spouse has filed for one.

Whether you are doing your divorce yourself or with a lawyer, it's important to be involved in and proactive about your case. If you're still not sure why you need to go to a hearing about your divorce talk to an experienced family law attorney. Don't just skip it without knowing the possible consequences.

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