What to Do If Your Spouse Refuses to Sign Divorce Papers

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You can retain a divorce attorney and have that attorney file a petition for divorce with or without your spouse’s permission. Or, you can visit your local court clerk and ask for information about filing for a divorce without an attorney. Your ex may not like you having the power to do so, but there is nothing they can do about your ability to divorce them. 

Different districts handle situations differently. It is common in a divorce where one party refuses to sign the petition for the divorce to be classified as an uncontested divorce. Meaning, once your petition for divorce is filed, your spouse will have 30 days to respond to the filing. If they fail to respond, the court will view their refusal to respond as not contesting the divorce and the court will grant you a default divorce.

In some states, if your spouse doesn’t respond to the initial filing of the divorce, a court date will be set. This can take longer, but if your spouse doesn’t show up for the court date then a judge will grant a divorce based on the information in your original petition for divorce.

A local divorce attorney will be able to consult with you and tell you the steps you will need to go through for your particular court jurisdiction. The bottom line is that you can get a divorce without their signature.

And, though they may not want to sign the paperwork, you can bet that once you file for a divorce they will hire an attorney and try to abuse you via the Family Court System. Abusers fight with might in court when their victims attempt to break free of them legally. Explain your situation to your attorney and make sure you've hired one with experience advocating for victims of domestic abuse.

Prepare for the divorce process to be high conflict. If he or she is passive aggressive or narcissistic, the divorce process may be long and convoluted due to his or her resistance. And, at the first sign of any danger from him or her, please don't hesitate to obtain a restraining order. Above all else you must be willing to protect yourself.