What happens if he refuses to sign after the divorce is filed?
Many people are still under the impression that they cannot obtain a divorce if one party refuses to sign their divorce paperwork. While a marriage requires two people, a divorce only needs one party. In any type of divorce, contested or uncontested, one person petitions the court by filing a Complaint of Divorce document. The other party is then served the Complaint via a service to process, and in cases filed in the state of New York and elsewhere, they are served a Summons as well.
In an uncontested divorce, the two parties may simply file a joint petition for divorce with the court. This is the simplest divorce process and the time between filing and finalization is usually quite short. Both parties are in agreement with the divorce, and they don’t have any issues of contention between them such as custody or property which will require attorneys to negotiate for them.
One party may have filed for a contested divorce on the grounds of cruelty, abuse, criminality, abandonment or any number of other reasons which will require the court to mediate or render judgment on. This means that whether the defendant party refuses to sign or not, a hearing is required to determine the details of the contention from the plaintiff. The defendant party still must be served under the law, but is neither required to sign for the plaintiff to proceed with the divorce nor must they be present at the hearing.
The party who has been served with a Complaint of Divorce has between twenty and thirty days to make a formal Answer to the Complaint either by simply signing the document and returning it indicating they are not going to contest the divorce or by signing it stating that they disagree with the divorce and want to proceed with hearings and a possible trial if that is what is required in that particular case. The served party might also simply ignore the Complaint document or refuse to sign it.
If your spouse has not responded to the Complaint of Divorce within the thirty days designated by the court, the petitioning party can file a request to enter a Default. A Default is filed when a spouse cannot be located or if they fail to respond within the stipulated thirty days or other time the judge has set forth.
The judge or court will then set a Default hearing for you to appear. At your hearing, the judge will examine the reasons and statements you made regarding your divorce and listen to any statement you want to make in the hearing. He may issue a ruling at that time for finalization. He could also extend the amount of time in which the defendant has to respond or enter other judgments.
Unless your case is a simple uncontested joint petition for divorce, there are always variables that can require different steps or details that may need more attention which only an expert can provide. Although it only takes one party in a marriage to end a marriage, each marriage is individual and unique. Only your attorney can advise how best to proceed especially if the marriage has children, property or other financial matters for which a disposition must be determined.