Can You Get a Divorce in Florida if Your Wife Refuses to Sign?

by Michael Butler

Only one spouse has to want a divorce for Florida to grant the request. If your wife refuses to sign either a petition for divorce or a settlement agreement, you can get the divorce yourself. However, it might take longer and you might still have to ask the court to hold a trial to divide marital property and determine child custody.

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Filing

If both you and your wife agree to the divorce, you can file for an uncontested divorce in Florida. Usually, you only need to wait 20 days for the court to schedule a hearing and grant the divorce. However, if your wife refuses to sign a petition for an uncontested divorce, you have to file for a contested divorce on your own. You will have to serve the papers on your wife, which can be done by having a sheriff deliver the paperwork to her. After your wife receives the paperwork, the process differs depending on whether your wife files an answer with the court.

Default

If your wife doesn't file a response to your petition with the court within 20 days, you can ask the court for a default judgment. The court will reclassify the case as uncontested and schedule a hearing on it. You must attend the hearing and ask the court for the divorce. If you have property, you need to tell the court how you want the property divided. The court will also need to determine custody of any children of the marriage. Generally, the court will grant your reasonable requests in a default hearing. However, you may want to speak with an attorney to make sure Florida courts will view your requests as reasonable.

Contested

If your wife does file an answer with the court, the process for divorce can take a lot longer depending on property and custody issues. You both will need to fill out financial affidavits. Property may need to be appraised and the court might order custody evaluations. If you are going to have a contested trial, consider hiring an attorney to represent you. Even if you represent yourself, you will have to follow the same procedures and rules as an attorney.

Considerations

If you and your wife own real estate in another state, a Florida court might decline to issue any orders concerning that property if you and your wife do not agree. You might need to get your divorce in Florida, then have a court in the other state make orders concerning the property. Even if your wife does not want a divorce initially, she might change her mind after you file for it. The two of you can go to mediation to work out property and custody issues. A neutral mediator might help both of you in coming to a mutual agreement.