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Can I get divorced if he says he won’t sign the papers?

Often, one spouse wants a divorce and one does not. The one who does not will often look for any possible way of stalling the proceedings. Many think that a refusal to sign the paperwork will prevent the divorce from happening.

Unfortunately for those spouses, this is simply not true. The fact is, there are two kinds of divorce: contested and uncontested.

What’s the difference between contested and uncontested?

Uncontested
Let’s start with an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce is one in which both spouses agree that the marriage is over and that they both want to end it legally and move on with their lives. In addition, they agree on everything about the divorce. They agree on child custody, visitation, and support; alimony; the distribution of assets and debts; and the grounds for the divorce. Because everything is agreed on, the divorce happens quickly and easily, with no need for mediation or hearings where a judge makes decisions.

This kind of divorce is usually faster, cheaper (no need for lawyers when everything is agreed on), and easier. It’s also what’s known as an amicable divorce.

Contested
Contested divorces are all other divorces. Examples of contested divorces are:

-When he won’t agree to sign the papers
-When you can’t agree on child custody, support, or visitation
-When you can’t agree on distribution of assets or debts
-When you don’t agree on the grounds for divorce

A contested divorce takes longer, because there will be hearings or mediation in an attempt to help the couple sort out the problems and come to an agreement. It also tends to be more expensive, because you often need a lawyer to help you handle it properly. It’s almost never easy, because there’s at least one thing you don’t agree on.

A refusal to sign the papers, in a contested divorce, could mean that he won’t respond to your petition for divorce. This means that you could potentially get a default judgment against him.

What is a default judgment?

If your husband doesn’t respond to the petition for divorce, you can possibly get a default judgment against him. This means that your divorce is granted, without his consent, and without the court hearing his side of things.

What should I do to file the contested divorce?

A contested divorce is typically easier if you hire a lawyer to help guide you through the process. A lawyer can help you fill out the paperwork, serve your husband, and guide you through the next steps, whether he responds or chooses to ignore the petition.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that your husband cannot prevent the divorce by refusing to sign the papers. He can slow the process down, but you can still file and get the ball rolling. It may take longer, and cost a little more, but in the end, you can get the divorce with or without his signature or cooperation. Talk to a lawyer to get the process started.