Can I get divorced if he says he won’t sign the papers?
Divorces are often contentious messes, even if both parties agree it is in the best interest. However, when one spouse does not want to end the union, they can do things to stretch out the process in hopes of a reconciliation. Avoiding a divorce only puts off the inevitable outcome. The court has ways to deal with a party that is purposely avoiding proceedings. Evasion does not mean the issues go away; the other party will still be allowed to proceed with or without the support of their spouse.
The most common trick used by a contentious spouse is to refuse to sign the paperwork. This only makes the divorce process more difficult. When one party files for their union to be severed, the sheriff or a process server will deliver the papers to the other party. One can only hide for so long. Avoiding the paperwork does not negate responsibility in the matter. The divorce will proceed. Attempting to avoid service means the judge must use other pathways to close the case. Things will still move forward, and a judgment is entered through default.
Understanding an Uncontested Divorce
When both parties are in agreement, the easiest way to end a union is through an uncontested divorce. Uncontested simply means that both parties agree to all issues at hand and that they have filed the necessary paperwork. While agreeing seems easy on the surface, the division of the property, child custody issues, and spousal support can be tricky for most couples. It seems that people get hung up on the smallest of issues. It is in the best interest to come to a compromise as dragging out these trivial issues is costly.
Once you reach an agreement, merely bring the outline along with any required paperwork to the court to file. The judge will review the paperwork and issue orders. You will be granted a divorce without question. When the divorce agreement has things like custody, or child and spousal support, the court must make sure that your decisions meet the state guidelines. They must also ensure that everything is in the best interest of the child. The court may ask a Guardian Ad Litem to step in and help them with the making decisions for the children involved in the case. This is especially true where both parties do not agree on with whom the children should reside.
When a party has received the divorce papers, but they refuse to sign them, then the court will classify this as an “uncontested response.” Many states allow these cases to proceed anyway, but it will not be considered an uncontested divorce. Things will move along as planned, and the court will assign an appearance date based on the service alone.
If the other party does not show up to their court date, then the plaintiff will most likely be granted a divorce based on the defendant’s failure to show. Most courts do not look favorably on a person that refuses a court order and does not show up. It usually is treated as an uncontested case and the divorce is granted.
Using A Request to Enter a Default
When one party has done everything they should to end the union civilly, and the spouse was properly served, but they fail to respond to the paperwork, then you may be allowed to enter divorce by default. Default simply means that one party has obtained service, but they have failed to cooperate with the response time, which is 30 days. On the other hand, if a spouse cannot be located to be served, then a default judgment may be granted.
Once proof of service is received, the other party must respond within 30 days, which is statutory. If they do not, then you may file a request that asks the court to enter the divorce as a default giving you a proposed judgment. The court will set the hearing date, like always, and they will ask that you appear on that day for finalization.
During the hearing, the judge can do a couple things. First, they can enter a ruling in your favor based on your proof to the court. Second, they can issue divorce orders by the judgment because the other party failed to respond or appear and state their claim. When a person does not show up in court, they give up any rights they have in the divorce.
Using Mediation Services
Divorces can be costly, especially when there are issues that both parties do not agree upon. Mediation services can be an excellent tool to help the couple come to an agreement. While not a formal court proceeding, a mediation session can get to the root of the issues and find a resolution so that the divorce can proceed.
In most cases, one party may be especially contentious because they do not want the union to end. Counseling may be an effective way to sort out some of the lingering issues and end the union peacefully. It is always imperative to have a united front when there are children involved. Remember, it is just as hard on them as it is on you. They love both parties and do not understand such significant issues.
Retaining Legal Counsel
Finally, many people try to negate a divorce without the help of an attorney. Because these are such significant court proceedings where assets and children are at stake, it is better to deal with these legalities by having a qualified attorney. Having representation is advisable to ensure you get a fair deal. The lawyer will oversee the filing of the paperwork, process of service, and all matters pertaining to child custody.
Everyone wants the “happily ever after.” Unfortunately, for many people, it is not a reality. However, it does not mean that two parties cannot peacefully end their union and move on. Refusing to sign the paperwork does little to thwart the proceedings. In fact, it may just make that party lose any rights they had in the divorce.