What to do if Your Spouse Won’t Sign Divorce Papers

Deciding to get a divorce can be difficult enough. So, when your spouse decides he or she won’t sign the divorce papers, things can get even more complicated. If you find yourself in the middle of a divorce where your spouse won’t sign the papers, we’re going to tell you what you can typically expect to happen and the course of action you should take.

Filing for Divorce: Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce

When you file for divorce, it can either result in a contested or uncontested divorce.

Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce is the preferred and easiest type of divorce. This occurs when the person who did not file the petition agrees to the terms set by their spouse. These types of divorces proceed quickly and smoothly. There are no negotiations needed and both parties agree to the terms of the divorce.

Contested Divorce

A contested divorce happens when the respondent does not agree with the terms included in the divorce petition. They often list a set of demands they want to negotiate.

When one party refuses to sign divorce papers, the divorce automatically becomes contested. Besides adding to the stress of the situation, a contested divorce can take even longer and cost more money.

Why Spouses Refuse to Sign Divorce Papers

There are many reasons why a spouse will refuse to sign divorce papers. Sometimes they want to delay the process or are looking for ways to hurt their spouse. In many cases, refusing to sign divorce papers only hurts the person who doesn’t want to not sign.

When a spouse refuses to sign divorce papers, they are essentially giving up their right to negotiate any terms of the divorce. This includes child custody, support, and the division of assets. This makes it easier for the petitioner because they won’t need to negotiate the terms. Many times the other spouse does not realize this when they refuse to sign.

Steps to Take When Your Spouse Won’t Sign Divorce Papers

If your spouse refuses to sign the divorce papers or doesn’t respond to your divorce petition by the deadline, you can ask the judge to grant your divorce by default. In this type of judgment, the judge can grant the request that the divorce petition details. Since your spouse has decided not to answer the petition, it can be considered an agreement to the terms. This would give the judge no reason to deny the divorce.

When a default judgment is approved, you will have to provide your spouse with enough notice of the divorce petition at a scheduled hearing date. At this hearing, the judge will review the paperwork you’ve filed and may have some questions. The judge will ultimately issue a ruling on your divorce.

FAQ When Your Spouse Won’t Sign Divorce Papers

What if your spouse can’t be located to sign the divorce process?

During the divorce process, any paperwork is delivered through a service of process. If your spouse can’t be found, you can ask for another way to provide the paperwork. If you’ve made many attempts to find your spouse, but were unsuccessful, the judge will look for other ways to find them. If that is also unsuccessful, the judge will continue with the proceedings and issue a ruling.

How long can a spouse extend a divorce?

There is no deadline on divorce, so your spouse could delay the process for months. Some divorces even drag on for years depending on the circumstances.

Do I need a divorce lawyer if my spouse refuses to sign?

If your spouse refuses to sign the divorce papers and you end up with a contested divorce, you will want to have a divorce lawyer on your side. Your lawyer can help to file papers correctly and make sure you are not missing anything in the process. Seeking help from a lawyer can help you to avoid costly mistakes and prevent you from wasting time.

The Bottom Line

If your spouse won’t sign divorce papers, your divorce will likely become contested. This means it will most likely take longer and cost more money. People refuse to sign divorce papers for many reasons. Sometimes they want to delay the process, other times they’re looking to hurt their partner.

When your spouse refuses to sign divorce papers, you can ask the judge to grant you a divorce by default. The judge will eventually make a ruling and your divorce will become final.

If you find yourself in a situation where your spouse will not sign divorce papers, it’s best to seek the help of a divorce attorney to help you navigate through the process.