How to Divorce When the Wife Is Not Willing

By Cindy Chung

Divorce can often become more stressful if you would like to end your marriage but your spouse does not. However, you can still obtain a divorce even if your wife does not want one. Although many divorce procedures remain the same regardless of whether your wife cooperates, you can try to increase the likelihood of your wife's participation. In addition, before filing for divorce, you should research the divorce procedures, including default options, followed by your own state. A default case would allow you to obtain a divorce on your own terms if your wife fails to respond to your divorce filing in a timely manner.

Step 1

Research the grounds for divorce allowed in your state even when one spouse does not want to end the marriage — every state allows no-fault divorce based on a breakdown of the relationship or irreconcilable differences while some states also allow for fault-based divorce due to misconduct, such as abandonment or adultery.

Step 2

Identify the divorce grounds that fit your personal situation. If you choose a no-fault divorce, your wife cannot delay or stop the divorce case in the way she might be able to if you were to choose fault grounds and she attempts to disprove marital misconduct. Understand, however, that many states require a specific period of living "separate and apart" before you can obtain a no-fault divorce.

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Step 3

Attempt to negotiate with your wife and talk to her about why she isn't willing to divorce. A neutral third party can sometimes help both spouses air their grievances and negotiate compromises. For example, if you learn your wife's reluctance to divorce stems from concern for your children, you can offer to participate in parenting classes for divorcing parents to show your wife that you are considering her concerns.

Step 4

Prepare to request a default judgment from the court in your divorce case, if you've filed for divorce but your wife refuses to participate and fails to file response papers within the specified period. Obtain the form required to request a default, as well as any forms required by state law for specific situations, such as default divorce with children. Write a proposed divorce judgment that includes the terms you would like the court to order — for example, propose court orders regarding property, alimony, child custody and other issues relevant to your personal situation.

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