What To Do When a Spouse Refuses to Sign Divorce Papers - Bineham & Gillen

divorceWhat To Do When a Spouse Refuses to Sign Divorce Papers

March 10, 2022by James Gillen

Hire A Divorce Attorney

The first step in the divorce process is to file a petition of divorce, which informs your spouse and the judge that you want a divorce. The person who files for divorce is the Petitioner, and it is their responsibility to give legal notice to their spouse, the Respondent, of the petition. The Respondent must file an answer within 20 days after being served to notify the court they received the divorce petition. Although a divorce lawyer is not always required for divorce cases, hiring a skilled attorney can provide peace-of-mind that these first steps are completed correctly – and can even expedite the divorce process.

Contested vs. Uncontested

The easiest divorce process one can experience is when both parties agree to the divorce terms. This is called an uncontested divorce. While this is the preferable scenario, it is not always so simple. The Respondent may not agree to your terms, in which case you have a contested divorce. If you and your spouse argue over the settlement of the divorce, it is best to hire a lawyer to guide you through the process.

If your spouse fails to answer your petition of divorce by the deadline, or simply refuses to answer, you can request the judge grant your divorce by default. In a default judgment, the judge can grant the requests outlined in your divorce petition. When your spouse fails to answer the petition, it can be considered as an agreement to the terms, so the judge has no reason to deny your terms.

If a default judgement is approved, your next step will be to prove you provided your spouse with proper notice of the divorce petition at a scheduled hearing date.

What Happens If My Spouse Refuses to Sign the Divorce Papers?

If your spouse refuses to sign the divorce papers, your divorce becomes contested. While the divorce will still go through, it will likely extend the divorce process. If your spouse refuses to sign the divorce decree, you will have to set a hearing and present evidence to a judge so they can determine the terms of the divorce. 

Does My Spouse Have to Sign the Divorce Papers in Order for it to go Through?

The quick answer is no, your spouse does not have to sign the papers in order for a divorce decree to be finalized. However, this makes your divorce contested rather than uncontested, which tends to drag the process out longer. This becomes even more complicated when there is property or children involved in the divorce. 

Likewise, you cannot stop a divorce by refusing to sign the papers. In Texas, refusing to sign divorce papers will not stop a final divorce decree. If one party is seeking a legal divorce they will get it whether the other party signs divorce papers or not.

What Happens If My Spouse Doesn’t Respond to A Divorce Petition?

In the event your spouse refuses to respond to a petition for divorce, the spouse will “default.” You will have to file an affidavit to the court in order to prove the divorce petition was served and you will need to provide proof that your spouse did not respond. Once these two items are presented the judge can decide default orders without the spouse’s influence. These can include items like alimony and child support. 

Learn How to Get a Divorce in Bexar County

If you’re beginning the divorce process and aren’t sure what steps you need to take, you can read or download our How to Get a Divorce Guide. The guide goes over the steps that need to be taken in both contested and uncontested divorce scenarios. If you fall under a special circumstance like a divorce with children or military divorce, you can find answers in the guide. 

You can also schedule a consultation with us. Give us a call to get started.