What If I Don't Want to Sign Divorce Papers?

By Anna Assad

Although divorce is often difficult to face, you must be involved in the court proceedings so you don't lose what you're entitled to. Your spouse doesn't need your participation to get a divorce from you. As long as he notifies you after filing the petition and follows the court's rules, he can get a final divorce decree in court.

Petition and Notice

Your spouse files the divorce petition and other forms required by your state — such as a summons telling you to respond to his petition — in the court that handles divorce cases where you or he lives. The petition contains information about him, you, any minor children you have and the marriage itself, such as the reason for the divorce and the marital debts and assets. Once he files the petition, he must notify you using the method the court requires, such as personal service or certified mail, by sending you a court-approved notice form and a copy of the petition. The notice form tells you how long you have to respond to the divorce papers.

Service by Publication

Your spouse might not have to find you if you are actively avoiding the papers. If your spouse can't locate you to send notice, the judge tells him to publish notice of the divorce petition in a newspaper in the county for a specific number of days. The notice tells you what was filed, when a hearing will be held on the matter, how much time you have to respond and what court the divorce was filed in. This notice is considered sufficient in cases where one spouse can't be found. In some counties, your spouse must hire a court-approved person to try and find you before he's allowed to serve you notice by publication. After the notice has run for the number of days the court requires, your spouse can proceed with the divorce without your participation.

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

Default Judgment

If you don't respond to the papers once you've received notice, your spouse asks the court to give him a final hearing on the divorce. The judge can award him a divorce judgment by default. A default judgment occurs when one spouse was summoned to court but didn't respond, leaving the judge to award the divorce based on the facts shown on the filing spouse's petition. Your spouse gets the divorce on his terms, even if you don't agree with everything he stated on the petition or you know some of information on the papers is not true.


Response forms and directions are typically included in the divorce papers. You can use the response to state what you disagree with in the petition. As long as you file the answer before the court deadline, you can contest the divorce, but your contest must be in good faith. Good faith means you're disputing legitimate issues, such as child custody, and not trying to delay the proceedings without a valid reason. You can also file a counterclaim with your answer. The counterclaim is your proposed terms for the divorce, including the grounds and the division of marital assets and debts.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
How to File for Divorce From Jail


Related articles

How to Divorce a Missing Husband in Mississippi

If your husband skips out on your marriage and disappears, it complicates the divorce process, but it won't stop you from dissolving your marriage. All 50 states, including Mississippi, allow no-fault divorce, leaving you to divorce on the grounds your marital relationship is irreconcilable. However, a petition for divorce requires you to serve notice of the divorce on your husband; therefore, you must prove to the court's satisfaction that you did everything possible to track him down in order to finalize the divorce.

How to Divorce a Missing or Abandoned Spouse in Georgia

The state of Georgia provides a variety of recourse for spouses needing divorce by default. Divorce by default in Georgia includes situations in which a spouse is missing, has abandoned the family or simply does not respond to a Petition for Dissolution. While Georgia maintains a no-fault "irretrievably broken" ground for divorce, abandonment and desertion are also grounds and these grounds may apply, even if your spouse's whereabouts are known.

Can You Get a Divorce in the State of Alabama If One Partner Refuses?

If your spouse is not cooperating in the divorce process, you may think you have no options to get out of an unhappy marriage. But while an uncooperative spouse can make the divorce process take longer and be more costly, the court in Alabama has the authority to grant the divorce even if your spouse opposes it. For example, the judge can grant a default divorce and any requests made by you in your divorce complaint.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Can Divorce Proceedings in Arizona Be Stop by the Petitioner?

If you've already filed for divorce in Arizona, but the divorce has not yet been finalized, you can stop the ...

How to Get a Divorce When You Don't Know Where He Is in Haralson County, GA?

Filing for divorce in Haralson County, Georgia, when you are unable to locate your spouse requires additional ...

What to Do If Your Spouse Filed an Uncontested Divorce & You Did Not Know?

A divorce doesn't start out as uncontested – it ends that way. In most states, uncontested simply means that spouses ...

Texas Divorce Procedures for a Missing Spouse

There are times when a spouse wants a divorce, but the other spouse has either disappeared or moved out of state. The ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED