What is the point of filing an “Appearance”?

An “Appearance” is what a person is required to file by a date certain after they are served in a dissolution of marriage case.  The summons explicitly provides the time frame in which a party must “appear” in a case.  Sometimes there is literally a court appearance on the date that is in the summons or on the notice of motion, and sometimes, the phrase that a party must “appear” simply means they have to file an Appearance form.  It depends upon the type of case, county and situation.


An appearance form is a form which tells the Court who you are, at what address you can be served, at what phone number you can be reached, or, who your attorney is, and at what address they can be served or at what phone number they can be reached.  Sometimes appearances contain a space for a fax number or even an e-mail address.  One must ensure an Appearance is accurate, because the contact information that is on same becomes their official address for services of notices, petitions and other important court documents.


If a party fails to file an appearance form within the deadline set forth on the summons, the court may hold that person in default.  When a party is held in default, the court, generally, within reason and some restrictions, may grant the other party the relief that they are requesting, without any say by the party being held in default.  This can be dangerous depending upon how the non-responding party was served.  Sometimes money can be afforded to a party when the opposing side is held in default. It is very important that an appearance is filed by a party or on a party’s behalf by an attorney, whenever they are served notice of process, to avoid being held in default.

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