No one truly wants a divorce, and if you’re going through one or feel like one is best, you want your situation to go as smoothly as possible. Unfortunately, not everyone has an amicable separation, and some spouses refuse to sign divorce papers and deal with the legal ramifications of a relationship ending.
If your spouse doesn’t sign divorce papers, you might wonder what to do next. There are a few options available to continue the process, and with the right legal advice and help from local divorce attorneys, you can get closer to a resolution that works best for everyone involved.
Understand Why They Aren’t Signing
Divorces are extremely uncomfortable, and it’s not often that someone will sign divorce papers and fork them over without a bit of thought. While it may be awkward for some spouses to speak to each other, it’s important to understand why a spouse isn’t signing yet. Sometimes spouses may be thinking about working things out, or they may want to discuss how the divorce affects the kids.
Other times, your spouse won’t sign as a form of leverage for the relationship or because of anger. They may want to use the fact that they won’t sign to keep you stuck in the situation or just want to cause trouble. It’s important to identify the reasons for their refusal to sign to better understand how to proceed.
Do Both Spouses Need to Agree to the Divorce?
We understand that sometimes you just want to get out of the situation, but that doesn’t mean you can sneak up on your spouse and get a divorce without them knowing. Your spouse has to have some knowledge of the divorce process, but them refusing to sign the papers doesn’t mean your case is dead in the water.
A contested divorce can be a long and time-consuming process, and if you know your spouse will fight to stop the divorce, you can talk to your attorneys about “no-fault” divorce. While this process is a bit more complicated than a traditional divorce, it can allow you to claim that the divorce is simply a result of incompatibility.
In most cases, judges try to avoid one-sided proceedings and will attempt to locate the other party in the situation. So if you filed for divorce, you shouldn’t expect to complete the entire process behind your partner’s back. But if a partner fails to respond or cannot be located, there are options to proceed with the divorce.
What if My Spouse Doesn’t Respond?
If your partner refuses to respond, you can go down the route of “no-fault” divorce. Most states are “no-fault” states, and the process involves filing your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the court. After 20 days, if a spouse doesn’t reply, the divorce will be called an uncontested divorce, to which you’ll have a hearing with the judge. If the spouse still doesn’t respond, you’ll be allowed to make reasonable requests regarding factors like child custody and other divorce issues on behalf of your spouse.
What if Your Spouse Cannot Be Located?
During the divorce process, the paperwork is delivered to your spouse through a “service of process.” If a spouse cannot be located, you can ask for another way to provide the paperwork. If you’ve made legitimate attempts to identify and find your spouse that led nowhere, the judge will find alternative ways to locate them. If that doesn’t work, the judge will continue with the proceedings and issue a ruling.
Navigate the Divorce Process With Keith Family Law
No matter what step of the divorce process you’re on, you don’t have to fight alone. If you’re looking for a divorce attorney in Westfield, NJ, contact Keith Family Law. Give us a call today for a free consultation, and we’ll discuss the best options for your case and give you the legal advice needed when a spouse won’t sign divorce papers.