What Happens If a Person Refuses to Sign Divorce Papers?

By Chris Blank

When marriages fall apart, both parties often want the divorce process to progress as quickly as possible. However, cases occur when one spouse refuses to sign divorce papers for various reasons ranging from a desire to seek greater financial support to a genuine desire to remain married. However, in the United States, one spouse cannot prevent another spouse from obtaining a divorce. Consult with an attorney who specializes in family law and divorce with specific questions about ending a marriage.

When marriages fall apart, both parties often want the divorce process to progress as quickly as possible. However, cases occur when one spouse refuses to sign divorce papers for various reasons ranging from a desire to seek greater financial support to a genuine desire to remain married. However, in the United States, one spouse cannot prevent another spouse from obtaining a divorce. Consult with an attorney who specializes in family law and divorce with specific questions about ending a marriage.

Fault Versus No-Fault Divorce

Before the 1970s, divorcing couples often had to provide legal justification to seek a divorce on fault-based grounds such as adultery, cruelty or abandonment. No-fault divorce provides a relatively uncomplicated means for couples to obtain a divorce by eliminating such requirements. Instead, many no-fault divorces proceed on the basis of "irreconcilable differences" or similar circumstances. No-fault statutes generally require couples to live separately for varying periods of time before seeking a divorce; however, obtaining a legal separation is generally not required.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Waiting Periods

Many states impose waiting periods on couples before granting a no-fault divorce. Waiting periods vary from six months to as long as a year or two years. Waiting periods are designed to allow couples to make efforts to reconcile their marriages or to be certain that reconciliation is impossible. Individuals may still pursue no-fault divorce in situations where one spouse refuses to sign divorce papers; however the required waiting period may be longer than if both spouses agree to dissolve the marriage.

Stalling Tactics and Default Divorce

Many spouses attempt to stall the divorce process by refusing to negotiate a settlement agreement or refusing to sign divorce papers after previously agreeing on a settlement. If your spouse is stalling the divorce by skipping sessions or otherwise demonstrating an unwillingness to cooperate with the divorce processes, you may petition the court to impose a contempt citation on your spouse. In some cases you may receive compensation for the additional attorney and court fees you paid as a result of your spouse's stalling. In extreme cases you may obtain a default divorce, which means that a judge grants your divorce even though your spouse refused to appear in court or sign the divorce papers.

Covenant Marriages

Covenant marriages are designed to reduce the number of broken marriages by requiring counseling and imposing restrictions on obtaining a divorce. Couples must agree before tying the knot that they intend to enter into a covenant marriage and undergo counseling before obtaining a divorce. Although several states have pursued possible legislation concerning covenant marriage, as of 2011, only Arizona, Louisiana and Arkansas have laws on the books. If you are involved in a covenant marriage, you may find it difficult to obtain a no-fault divorce without enduring a lengthy waiting period, whether your spouse is cooperative or not.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
What Are Desertion Divorce Papers?

References

Resources

Related articles

Illinois Divorce on the Grounds of Abandonment

Although Illinois law no longer punishes spouses for abandonment, the state does allow divorce on the grounds of desertion. However, even when one spouse deserted the other, many couples still file for divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, meaning that neither spouse is at fault. Apart from child custody, the grounds for divorce typically do not have much impact on the final divorce decree, which includes spousal maintenance, property division and child support.

Which States Are No-Fault Divorce States?

All states offer some version of no-fault divorce. California was the first to pass no-fault legislation in 1970, while New York brought up the rear by finally passing a no-fault law in 2010. As a result, no matter where you live, you can get a divorce by simply telling the court that your marriage is over. You no longer have to prove that your spouse caused the breakup. The similarity ends there, however. Individual states put their own spin on no-fault rules.

What Would Hold Up an Uncontested Divorce?

Uncontested divorces range from simple cases without children and marital assets to complicated cases with custody issues and property division. If the uncontested divorce qualifies as a simplified divorce or for a summary judgment, it usually can be expedited. However, a lengthy marriage with dependent children and a large estate often presents complicated issues. Court rules vary from state to state based on the type of uncontested divorce. Some states require a couple to submit joint petitions with settlement agreements attached and attend family mediation. Any unresolved issues can cause a rejection of the documents or delay in the court proceedings.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

How to Divorce When the Wife Is Not Willing

Divorce can often become more stressful if you would like to end your marriage but your spouse does not. However, you ...

How to Resolve an Unwanted Divorce

Your spouse wants a divorce. You want to save the marriage. There are legal ways to resolve an unwanted divorce, ...

Statute of Abandonment in Tennessee

Tennessee, like other states, grants a divorce without the need to allege fault on the part of either spouse. Tennessee ...

Does the Plaintiff Have to Show Up in a Divorce?

State laws regarding divorce often differ significantly. Further, rules on who must attend hearings vary based on the ...

Browse by category