Can a Divorce Be Denied?

By Heather Frances J.D.

Depending on your state’s laws, the state court can decline to grant your divorce, but it won’t deny a divorce simply because one spouse does not want it. To avoid denial, you must ensure that you fully comply with all of your court’s rules, and you must provide sufficient proof of whatever ground you are alleging in your divorce paperwork.

Fault Grounds

Most states have some grounds for divorce that require the person filing for divorce to prove that his spouse committed some kind of marital misconduct, such as adultery, cruelty or abandonment. If you file for divorce based on one of these fault grounds, you must prove that the marital misconduct occurred, and your spouse has the right to defend himself against your accusations. He can deny that the misconduct occurred, or he can offer a defense such as condonation, which means that you condoned – or approved – his actions. If his defense is successful, the court will deny the divorce because you failed to prove the fault ground you alleged.

Procedural Dismissal

A divorce could also be denied because of procedural errors. For example, if you don’t meet residency requirements in the state where you file, the court cannot grant your divorce and must dismiss the case. Or, if you fail to properly serve your spouse with divorce papers, the court cannot grant your divorce until your spouse is properly served.

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


When a divorce is dismissed or denied, the court will usually dismiss it "without prejudice." If so, the court isn’t saying that you can never be granted a divorce. Instead, the court is simply saying that the current case is terminated, but you are free to start all over and file for divorce again.


All states now recognize some type of no-fault divorce, such as “irreconcilable differences,” which removes the requirement to prove a fault-based ground in order for the court to grant your divorce. If you filed originally under a fault ground, you can refile using the no-fault option, which typically does not require proof of wrongdoing or marital fault on the part of a spouse. The court will eventually grant the divorce if you refile under no-fault grounds and follow all procedural requirements, even if your spouse doesn't want the divorce.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
How to File for Divorce After You Forgive Adultery


Related articles

Default Judgments in Kansas in a Divorce

By the time you get ready to file for divorce, you and your spouse may not be getting along well enough to cooperate during the divorce proceeding. Your spouse may decide to ignore the divorce paperwork you filed, thinking that will stop the divorce or make you angry. Unfortunately for your spouse, Kansas courts can grant default judgments in divorce cases, giving you a divorce even when your spouse does not want to participate in the process.

What if My Wife in New York State Refuses to Divorce Me?

Until 2010, if you lived in New York and your wife refused to divorce you, she could have complicated the situation considerably by contesting your grounds. This changed when the state adopted the concept of no-fault divorce. Now you need only tell the court that your marriage isn't working out anymore – and your wife can't stop the proceedings. However, that might not stop her from trying.

Motion to Reinstate a Divorce Complaint

Deadlines and mandatory court filings can complicate the divorce process, especially when you’re representing yourself and you're unsure of the rules. It’s surprisingly easy to take a misstep that might result in the court throwing out your case by dismissing your complaint. Fortunately, you can usually remedy the situation very easily by correcting your error and filing a motion with the court to reinstate it.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Causes of Divorce: Habitual Drunkenness

In 2010, New York became the last jurisdiction to pass provisions for no-fault divorce, so all 50 states have now moved ...

Do You Have to Be Separated for 6 Months to File for a Divorce?

How long you and your spouse must live separately before you can file for divorce – or if you even have to live ...

What If Only One Person Wants a Divorce?

Because all 50 states recognize no-fault divorce, it's pretty much impossible for a spouse who does not want a divorce ...

How to Get a Divorce When One Spouse Won't Agree

No one can stop you from getting a divorce if you want one, with the possible exception of the court. If you don’t ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED