Making the decision to get a divorce can be emotionally taxing and mentally exhausting without adding additional problems. Sometimes one spouse will file a petition for a dissolution of marriage, but the other spouse refuses to sign the divorce papers. In many cases, divorce is not a surprise for either spouse, and it is rare that a spouse is caught totally off guard by a divorce action, but it does happen. Even in the case of what at first appeared to be an amicable divorce, it is not uncommon for a spouse to be hesitant or belligerent, and refuse to sign.
If you are the one who made the decision to get a divorce, you are most likely ready to move ahead expediently so you can restart your life. Having your spouse dig in his or her heels, be uncooperative, and refuse to sign the documents will leave you feeling angry, confused, and even panicky about what to do next. Consult the divorce attorneys of Staack, Simms, & Reighard, PLLC right away to help guide you through the next steps. In the meantime, keep reading so we can address some of your initial concerns.
Will this Prevent Me from Getting a Divorce?
The simple answer is “no.” Your spouse’s refusal to sign papers may complicate things, but it will not prevent you from obtaining a divorce. In Florida, you do not need your spouse’s consent to end your marriage. Since Florida is a no-fault divorce state, you do not even need to prove your spouse’s fault to file for divorce. All you need to do is to state that your marriage is irretrievably broken. The court will grant a default divorce if your spouse refuses to sign divorce papers. All that said, even though each situation has its own set of unique circumstances including whether or not children are involved, an uncooperative or seemingly detached spouse can definitely “muddy the waters.”
Why is Your Spouse Not Signing?
When up against a spouse who is refusing to sign divorce papers, it’s important to try to recognize the reasons. By understanding your spouse’s motivations, this will help you decide the best way to respond. You might need to sit down and have an honest discussion with your spouse. Maybe you just need to wait it out a bit. Or, it may be that it is time to draw a hard line and proceed with tough negotiations. Some of the common reasons a spouse may ignore a divorce action or refuse to sign include:
- Your spouse may believe that you will not be able to get a divorce if they won’t sign the divorce papers. This is a common misconception, especially if your spouse has not had legal counsel. They are mistaken in thinking that a divorce cannot proceed without them.
- Your spouse might still be hoping to work things out and preserve your marriage. If this is the case, you should sit down with him or her, explain that you are unhappy in your marriage, make it clear that you are not going to change your mind, and sincerely state that you only want what is best for the both of you in the long run.
- Your spouse may be using refusal as a power play or leverage just for obtaining certain assets, financial support, or custody. This is a form of manipulation you should not give in to and that is exactly why you need the divorce attorneys of Staack, Simms, & Reighard, PLLC to represent your interests and negotiate for you.
- Your spouse may be refusing to sign divorce documents just to make things more difficult you. Divorce can bring out the worst behavior in people and this petty action causes things to be much more complicated, costly, and time consuming for all parties. No one ends up a “winner.”
Knowing what your spouse is hoping to achieve by refusing to sign the paperwork for divorce will help you determine your next action.
How to Get a Default Divorce in Florida
The process of getting a default divorce includes the following steps:
- You and your attorneys will gather all necessary documents for your divorce case and file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the courts. This can be done without your spouse’s signature.
- Once the petition has been filed, your spouse will be served divorce papers by a process server.
- Your spouse will then have 20 days after being served to file a response to your divorce petition with the court.
- If your spouse does not respond within 20 days, your attorney can file a motion with the court asking to grant a default divorce along with a proposed judgment.
- The judge will review your request and proposed judgment, and file a default hearing on your uncontested divorce.
- You must attend the hearing and request the divorce in person. At that time, you will be asked about matters regarding property division, support, and if children are involved, the parenting plan. If your spouse has still refused to appear at the hearing, the court will generally grant the reasonable requests of whichever spouse has appeared at the default hearing and will rule it to be an uncontested or default divorce.
Possible Complications and Problems
Now that you know it is possible to get a divorce without your spouse’s signature, you may be wondering why you should even bother trying to get your spouse to sign documents at all? One reason is you never know when in the divorce process your spouse may just suddenly show up and try to derail things. It is always easier to proceed with a divorce when both parties are fully engaged in the process and are able to cooperate with one another. Odds are that a spouse who refuses to acknowledge or sign divorce documents will be very uncooperative about division of assets, spousal support, and parenting plans, too. And after the divorce, it is likely that he or she will continue to be difficult as well.
Legal Representation for Dealing with an Uncooperative Spouse
Work with the Florida divorce lawyers of Staack, Simms, & Reighard, PLLC when you’re going through a divorce, especially when you are dealing with a difficult spouse who is making your situation that much more complicated. You should not try to navigate the complex legal and emotional aspects of divorce by yourself. Meet with us and we will help you move forward with your case, always seeing to it that your welfare and interests are protected.
Get experienced, professional, savvy representation for your divorce. Reach out today.
Staack, Simms & Reighard, PLLC