What If the Respondent Refuses to Sign the Divorce Papers in Dallas County, Texas?

By Marcy Brinkley

If you filed for divorce in Texas but the other party refuses to sign the final decree of divorce, you may set the case for trial and ask the judge to make decisions about the property division, custody of the children, child support and other issues. Refusing to sign the papers will not stop the finalization of the divorce, but the procedure becomes more difficult than an uncontested divorce situation. Dallas County's local rules describe the manner of setting a hearing and finalizing such a divorce.

If you filed for divorce in Texas but the other party refuses to sign the final decree of divorce, you may set the case for trial and ask the judge to make decisions about the property division, custody of the children, child support and other issues. Refusing to sign the papers will not stop the finalization of the divorce, but the procedure becomes more difficult than an uncontested divorce situation. Dallas County's local rules describe the manner of setting a hearing and finalizing such a divorce.

Legal Effect

In an uncontested divorce case, both parties sign a final decree of divorce that addresses all of the issues of the case including child support, conservatorship and property division. After the 60-day waiting period, one party appears at a brief hearing to finalize the divorce and ask the judge to sign the decree. If the respondent refuses to sign the decree, you will need to set a hearing and present evidence to the judge so that she can decide the terms of the divorce. Under no circumstances, however, will the other party be able to prevent the divorce from occurring at all.

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

Applicable Law and Local Rules

The Texas Family Code sets out laws regarding marriage, divorce, property division and parent-child relationships that apply to divorces throughout the state. Most counties also expect parties to follow local rules that apply only to the procedures of the courts in that jurisdiction. Dallas County, for example, publishes local rules for the family law courts that describe the procedures for setting hearings, courtroom conduct, pretrial conferences and other issues that arise frequently. When you file for divorce in Dallas County, you and your spouse are also subject to a set of standard temporary orders regarding the children, marital property and conduct of the parties while the divorce is pending.

Setting a Final Hearing

If the parties cannot reach an agreement and the respondent refuses to sign the decree, the case is considered a contested divorce and the issues must be resolved at a trial where both parties present evidence to the judge. Either party may set a final hearing on the merits by contacting the clerk/administrator of the court. When you set the case for hearing, you must notify the other party in writing of the date and time within two business days of obtaining the setting Prior to the final hearing, you should conduct discovery to obtain information about the other party's assets, arrange for witnesses to appear and prepare a final decree of divorce. On the day of the final hearing, present your evidence, respond to the other party's case and ask the judge to sign your decree.

Default Divorce

In some situations, the judge will grant a divorce even if the other party refuses to participate in the final hearing. You must show that you served the other party with notice of the suit, he is not on active duty in the military, your proposed final decree of divorce divides the property fairly and equitably, and the provisions for the children are in their best interests. You will be asked to present evidence to assist the judge in making her decision and to provide her with a written final decree of divorce to sign. If the other party is in the military, the court will appoint a lawyer to represent him in the proceedings if necessary.

Mediation

If the other party refuses to sign the decree because he does not agree with one or more of its provisions, you may try to re-negotiate with him. If the other party agrees, you may also try mediation, a form of alternative dispute resolution that involves discussing your situation with the help of a neutral third party. If you reach an agreement on the issues, you may proceed with the case as an uncontested divorce. Even if the other party refuses to mediate, you may ask the judge to order him to attend.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Reasons Why a Divorce Can Be Postponed in Texas

References

Related articles

How to Get Divorced in Texas

If you and your spouse can agree on the issues, a divorce can be completed fairly quickly and inexpensively in Texas. If you wish, a neutral party called a mediator can help you talk through the issues. If no agreement is possible, the judge can listen to the evidence and make the decision for you, although that option takes longer and is more expensive. The Texas Family Code applies to all divorces filed in the state but you must also become familiar with the local rules as policies and procedures vary from county to county.

How to Get Full Custody in Ohio

Ohio law presumes that parents should share parenting responsibilities equally after divorce. If you want to limit the other parent's access and decision-making with regard to your children, you must ask the judge to allocate parental rights and responsibilities accordingly, and you must demonstrate why this is in the best interests of the children. The judge must consider many factors, including the wishes of the children and the parents; the mental and physical health of the parties; family interactions and relationships; any history of family violence, sexual abuse, child abuse or neglect; violations of a previous visitation or child support order; or plans by either parent to move out of state. In the final order, if the judge agrees that a shared parenting plan is not in the best interests of the children, she will designate one party as the residential parent and legal custodian. The other party will be called the nonresidential parent.

The Time Between the Preliminary Hearing & the Final Hearing for Divorce in South Carolina

The divorce process in South Carolina can range anywhere from six to 18 months, from start to finish. No two cases are alike; therefore, the time frame of your case will depend on your particular set of circumstances. If your case is uncontested and you and your spouse have signed an agreement, your divorce will move through the divorce process much faster than a contested case.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

What if My Husband Refuses to Mediate the Divorce in Texas?

Divorcing spouses in Texas are encouraged to use mediation as a means of settling their disputes. However, state law ...

Texas Divorce Regulations

When couples divorce in Texas, they must follow procedural rules and regulations or risk having their case dismissed. ...

Can I Still Get a Divorce if My Spouse Does Not Show Up at the General Magistrate Hearing?

Participation of both spouses can help ensure the divorce process moves forward efficiently. Unlike other states, ...

What to Expect at ERC for an Arizona Divorce

In Arizona, many couples avoid the cost and uncertainty of going to trial to obtain a divorce by attending an Early ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED