What Happens if You Want a Divorce But Your Spouse Doesn't?

A divorce is never anyone's first choice, and this decision can be difficult to come to terms with. However, divorce is often the best and healthiest option for many people. When a relationship ends, it is never easy. It can be especially difficult when one person wants a divorce, and the other does not. The person who doesn't want the divorce can make the process even more difficult and drawn out than it already is. This can be very challenging to deal with, and you will need the support of a skilled attorney to help you through the process.

Contested Divorces

When one person wants a divorce and their spouse does not, the dissenting spouse will drag their feet and try to draw the process out by contesting different aspects of the divorce settlement. They may also be combative and refuse to cooperate. Though they may hope that this will make the person seeking the divorce reconsider, it often does the opposite. Additionally, when a divorce is contested, the process takes longer and costs everyone more money.

Aspects of a divorce that are often contested include:

  • Property division
  • Debt division
  • Spousal support
  • Child custody
  • Child support

If you are in a situation where your former partner refuses to cooperate, you will have to have your divorce litigated in court. This can be incredibly frustrating, but sometimes it is the best way to resolve your case. Though it may feel like you are losing control over your divorce, with the help of a lawyer experienced in contested divorce cases, you can be sure your best interests are being represented.

Default Divorce Cases

In California, the person requesting the divorce (the petitioner) must serve the other spouse with divorce papers. The person served (the respondent) then has 30 days to file a response with the courts. However, in some extreme situations, the person being served may refuse to sign divorce documents or may refuse to respond to your request for divorce at all. There have even been cases where people have gone to extreme lengths to avoid being served. This is incredibly frustrating and concerning.

However, if your ex is refusing to cooperate, this does not mean that you won't be able to obtain a divorce. Some people erroneously believe that if they refuse to acknowledge or sign divorce papers, then the divorce will not proceed. However, in California, your spouse's signature is not required to obtain a divorce.

True Default Case

If your former spouse fails to respond to your request for divorce and refuses to sign a divorce agreement, your divorce becomes a true default case. When this happens, the person seeking the divorce can, after the requisite 30 day period, file their final forms and receive a judgment of divorce from the courts.

If your ex fails to respond to your request for a divorce, but you have a written agreement regarding matters such as property and debt division, child support and custody, and spousal support, you can obtain a default divorce with a written agreement. If your former spouse did respond to your request for a divorce and you have a written agreement, you can obtain an uncontested divorce.

What to Do If You Are Dealing with a Difficult Ex

If you have a spouse that is refusing to cooperate or who is attempting to obstruct the divorce process, you should speak with your attorney right away. A skilled lawyer can help you navigate this challenging process and provide guidance on how to deal with a difficult ex. There may be legal options you are unaware of or dispute resolution methods you haven't yet tried. For example, you may be able to resolve your issues with the help of a mediator or arbitrator.