What Should I Do If My Spouse Refuses to Sign Divorce Papers?

Posted in uncategorized on June 7, 2021

One spouse refusing to sign the divorce papers is not uncommon. A divorce is an emotional time, often with a great deal of conflict between the two parties involved. If your spouse refuses to sign the divorce papers, do not worry. This will not halt the divorce process. You can still proceed to file your petition, as it does not require signatures from both parties. You may wish to consult with a Solana Beach divorce lawyer, however, for assistance with the legal process.

Push Forward With Divorce Process

If you’ve given your spouse the opportunity to sign the divorce papers served on him or her, and your spouse has refused, push forward with the divorce process anyway. In general, a divorce petition in California does not need both parties to sign for it to move forward. Your spouse not signing simply means that you will most likely have a contested divorce rather than an uncontested divorce.

A contested divorce case means that you and your spouse are not going through the process amicably. Rather than working with you to achieve a settlement and agree on the terms of the divorce, your spouse has chosen not to cooperate. While this may draw out your divorce process, it will ultimately have the same conclusion – a dissolution of marriage.

Getting your divorce this way, however, may take a hearing if your ex continues to refuse to work with you. Refusal to respond, on the other hand, could have the opposite effect: a faster divorce process with a default judgment.

Serve the Documents

The first thing to do is to serve the divorce papers on your ex. By law, you must serve your ex-spouse the divorce documents or hire a professional to serve them for you. You can also ask the Sheriff’s Office in your county to serve the divorce papers. If you cannot locate your spouse because he or she is trying to evade the summons, you may be able to push your divorce through by posting a notice in the public paper for a few weeks to fulfill the requirement of notifying your spouse.

Go to Divorce Trial

If your ex-spouse responds to your petition but still will not sign, or refuses to work with you to achieve a settlement, you may have no choice but to go to trial. A divorce trial is a much lengthier, costlier and more public ordeal than a settlement. If your ex forced you to go to trial by refusing to try mediation or arbitration, a judge may take this into consideration and may award you an amount to cover your legal expenses.

Request a Default Judgment for Failure to Respond

At this point, failing to cooperate with the legal process will hurt your spouse, not you. The courts can move your divorce proceeding forward if your spouse continues not to respond. Unless your spouse had a valid reason not to respond to the petition or remain absent from court, he or she could also face penalties for refusing to cooperate with mandatory legal processes. A judge could hold your spouse in contempt for failing to appear, for example, which can lead to fines or jail time.

A judge’s actions against your spouse may force him or her to comply with mandatory actions, such as mediation, before going to divorce court. In other cases, refusal to cooperate can simply result in a default judgment. If the other spouse still hasn’t responded to the divorce petition or doesn’t appear at your trial date, you can file a request to enter a default judgment. If granted, a judge will finalize the divorce according to your terms, as your spouse never bothered to contest them or show up to state his or her case in court.

For more information about a divorce proceeding where your spouse is refusing to sign the papers, contact a divorce lawyer to schedule a consultation.