Filing for divorce can be an emotionally draining and exhaustive process. In an ideal situation, you and your spouse largely agree on the terms of the divorce and dissolve your marriage on good terms, resulting in an inexpensive and quick divorce. Unfortunately, this is not often the case. Here are steps you can take if your spouse refuses to sign divorce papers.
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.
Request A Default Judgement
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.
Take An Active Role In The Process
If you have been granted a default judgement, you may be required to inform your spouse of the hearing. Even if it is not required, it is best to make written and verbal efforts to inform your spouse of all meetings. Your active participation, in contrast with their lack of participation, can be used in your favor when it comes to settling the terms of the divorce. And if your spouse refuses to take part in the divorce at all, it can speed up the timeline for a resolution.
If you are having trouble with your soon-to-be former spouse, turn to the family and divorce lawyers Bineham and Gillen for a speedy resolution.