What Happens If a Spouse Won’t Sign Divorce Papers?

Posted on April 26, 2024 11:41am
What Happens If a Spouse Won’t Sign Divorce Papers?

Can Your Partner Refuse to Sign Divorce Papers?

Yes. Your spouse can refuse to sign. In some cases, they may not agree to the terms you have set forth and may wish to pursue a contested divorce. In other cases, they may simply fail to respond to your petition for divorce altogether. In the event of a refusal to sign or respond, however, you still have options to proceed with a divorce.

Uncontested vs. Contested Divorce

An uncontested divorce is one where both parties agree on all matters related to the dissolution of their marriage. This includes, but is not limited to, issues such as child custody, division of property, spousal support, and debt allocation. This type of divorce is typically quicker and less costly, as it does not require a trial or detailed legal negotiations, though can be difficult to accomplish in marriages involving children or significant assets or debts.

On the other hand, a contested divorce occurs when the spouses cannot reach an agreement on one or more key issues, necessitating negotiation, mediation, arbitration, or court intervention to settle these disputes. These divorces are usually more complex, time-consuming, and expensive, as they may involve court proceedings and require legal counsel.

A spouse's refusal to sign an uncontested divorce agreement typically transitions the divorce from uncontested to contested. In a contested divorce, it is important to hire an attorney. Your legal representation will then work with the opposing party (your spouse and their lawyer) to move forward with the divorce and represent your interests.

Failure to Respond to Petition

In the state of Washington, one spouse (known as the petitioner) commences the divorce procedure by filing a formal request for marriage dissolution in court (the petition). The other spouse (referred to as the respondent) is subsequently served with this petition and is usually given a standard period of about 20 days to provide a response. If the respondent fails to respond within this period, they are considered in "default."

Importantly, even if a respondent fails to respond, the divorce process can still proceed. In such cases, the petitioner may request a default hearing, during which they present their case to the judge.

When a party is in default, the court assumes that they have no objections to the claims made by the petitioner in the divorce petition. This could include matters related to property division, child custody, child support, and spousal maintenance. Essentially, the respondent forfeits their right to have any say in these crucial decisions.

Your Spouse Cannot Refuse a Divorce

Despite attempts to avoid signing divorce papers, your spouse ultimately cannot prevent you from getting divorced. Our attorneys employ a range of strategies to effectively handle cases where a spouse refuses to sign divorce papers. This includes negotiation and mediation tactics to facilitate agreement between the parties or court proceedings if an amicable resolution is not possible. Regardless of the course of action, our attorneys are committed to working tirelessly on behalf of our clients to help them achieve their desired outcomes. Contact us if you need assistance.

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