How to Divorce an Unwilling Spouse

By Anna Green

If you want to get a divorce but your spouse does not, you may be able to dissolve the marriage anyway. A contested divorce can be complicated and time-consuming. Unlike a divorce in which both parties agree to end the marriage, a contested divorce generally requires you to attend a trial in front of a judge and argue why your marriage should be dissolved. As you proceed with your divorce, remember that the divorce laws and procedures for divorcing an unwilling spouse vary from state to state.

Step 1

Draft a petition for divorce. State law determines the exact requirements for a divorce petition, but generally, the document should list information about both spouses, including each party's name, birth date, current address and date of marriage. The divorce petition should also include your minor children's names and dates of birth. Finally, you must state the reason you want to divorce your spouse, such as irreconcilable differences.

Step 2

Prepare additional supporting paperwork. If you plan to apply for child support, alimony or child custody, you will need to fill out a financial affidavit or child custody affidavit. In most jurisdictions, you can request copies of these affidavits from the court clerk's office.

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

Step 3

Submit your divorce petition to the clerk of the court. Once you have completed your petition for divorce and any affidavits, file them with the clerk of the court and pay your filing fee. You must file your divorce petition in the county or city where you currently reside.

Step 4

Have your unwilling spouse served with copies of all the divorce papers after filing them with the court clerk. In most locations, you can serve your spouse by private process server or law enforcement officer. Alternatively, some jurisdictions allow you to serve your spouse by certified or registered mail.

Step 5

Wait for your spouse's response. Once your spouse receives the divorce papers, he will have to prepare a written response to the documents stating why he objects to the divorce. The timeline under which your spouse must respond varies between states. If your spouse fails to respond, you may be able request a default judgment and proceed with the divorce.

Step 6

Present your case to the judge. After you and your spouse have submitted your divorce papers to the court, the clerk will assign you a hearing date. At the hearing, both you and your spouse will have the opportunity to make a case as to why you should or should not divorce. You may present evidence or call witnesses to support your case. Soon after the hearing, the judge will make a ruling on whether the court will grant your divorce.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
How to Get Free Divorce Papers



Related articles

Do You Have to Wait 30 Days for a Decree of Divorce in Arkansas?

Even if divorcing spouses agree on all marital issues, such as custody and property division, Arkansas imposes a 30-day waiting period on all divorces. This means the court will not issue a divorce decree until at least 30 days have passed since the date the divorce petition was filed.

Adultery Laws and Alimony

Your spouse’s adulterous relationship may bring an end to your marriage, but it is not always a significant factor in the legal process of divorce. Though many states recognize adultery as grounds for divorce, state laws vary, and when it comes to alimony, your spouse’s adultery may or may not be significant to the divorce court.

How to Get a Transfer of Venue in a Divorce in Alabama

Divorce is always difficult, but especially so if you have to travel across the state to present your case. Many states, including Alabama, limit the counties in which a divorce can be filed. Counties in which the parties have had substantial contacts are said to have "venue." If your spouse files for divorce in an inconvenient or inappropriate county, you can ask the court to transfer the case to a county with venue.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Wisconsin No-Fault Divorce Procedures

If you live in Wisconsin and your marriage has come to an end, the state has a relatively simple procedure for ...

How to File a Divorce in the Dallas County Courts

To file for a divorce in Dallas County, Texas, at least one party to the divorce must be a resident of Texas for a ...

How to Divorce in PA After Two Years When a Spouse Does Not Agree on Settlement

If you file for a no-fault divorce in Pennsylvania, you can get a divorce in six months if you and your spouse are in ...

How to Do Your Own Divorce in Ohio

Either spouse may legally file for divorce in the state of Ohio. If your divorce is uncontested or no-fault, you can ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED