It goes without saying that divorce can be tricky and often runs in many unforeseen roadblocks on the way to an ultimate final – and legal – divorce.
You can retain a family law divorce attorney to walk you through the divorce list of things that need to get done before a divorce can become final. But then, suddenly, one of the parties gets wet feet and refuses to sign the divorce papers.
One spouse can petition for divorce without the other spouse’s signature, although doing so might cause future legal matters. One spouse’s refusal to sign divorce papers may indicate that they are opposed to the divorce and do not want to be legally separated from the other. Because of the need for the agreement, this is a sensitive issue that both spouses must handle with care.
If one spouse refuses to sign the divorce papers, it is important to have a divorce family lawyer help navigate through these legal waters. It is when the questions about what happens and what to do after the refusal of one spouse to sign the divorce papers will be answered.
What Are the Requirements for a Divorce in California?
Divorce proceedings in California are considered no-fault divorces. To secure a divorce, one partner does not have to establish that the other was “at fault” for the marriage’s demise. There is no need for your partner’s consent or signature on divorce papers. A divorce may be obtained without the spouse’s signature if all the necessary conditions for divorce are met.
For some who’ve had enough of their marriage, a divorce is the only option.
One must be a resident of California for a certain period before filing for divorce. It makes no difference if the couples choose divorce litigation or divorce mediation in Los Angeles to settle their union. The key is at least three months must have passed since you moved into the county where the divorce petition will be filed, and you must have lived in the state for at least six months.
Your spouse must be served with divorce papers. An individual’s signature on a proof of service is not an indication of agreement with the divorce conditions; rather, it is confirmation that the individual was served with the divorce papers. Sometimes one partner is unwilling to sign the evidence of service because of difficulties.
Even the quickest divorce in California will take at least six months. Even if both parties in a divorce in California agree on all terms and there are no disagreements or disputes to resolve, the divorce cannot be completed until at least six months under the state’s legislation.
If your spouse is unreasonable, the divorce process might take longer than six months. There are, however, measures you may assume that might be beneficial.
What Happens If Your Spouse Won’t Sign Divorce Papers?
Divorce is not usually a unanimous decision among couples. One partner can accept that the marriage is finished while the other remains committed to working on saving the relationship. The spouse fighting the divorce may think that if they refuse to sign the papers, the divorce will not go through.
However, this is seldom the case.
Refusing to sign divorce papers may sometimes backfire on the spouse opposed to the divorce.
“You should realize that if one spouse files for divorce in California, the other spouse has no legal standing to object,” explains Leon F. Bennett, a family law attorney in Woodland Hills, CA for over 30 years. “The courts will grant your divorce whether or not your spouse wants out of the marriage, since marriage can only exist if both parties consent to it.”
A divorce may still be finalized if one spouse refuses to sign the acceptance of service. A process server may serve your spouse with court documents and attest to the court that they were served. You may petition the court to allow other service methods if your spouse refuses service. Even if your partner first refuses to sign the divorce papers, the court might rule in your favor and issue the divorce.
Many individuals mistakenly think that they may halt a divorce proceeding by refusing to sign or react to their spouse’s legal filings. In reality, the other spouse’s refusal to sign divorce papers will only limit the rights of the non-signing spouse but will not prevent the divorce.
What Is the Effect of Refusing to Sign Divorce Papers?
As was previously stated, divorce proceedings in California are no-fault. It simply implies that a divorce will be granted by default in California if the necessary divorce papers are not signed within 30 days.
What exactly is a divorce by default?
In a default divorce, the petitioner is excused from having to appear in court to finalize the divorce physically. If, after 30 days of service, you have not received a response from your spouse, you may petition for a divorce in court under the “default” grounds, which means the divorce is uncontested. A judge will often make a ruling in a case based on what they deem to be the most logical course of action. However, if there are no contested issues, you may not need to attend court, and the divorce might be completed without your presence.
On the other hand, the petitioner may choose to handle the matter electronically or in a brief hearing before a judge. Since the respondent never filed a motion contesting the petition, the court will approve the petitioner’s request for a divorce without a trial. Without one spouse signing the divorce papers, the other spouse will have an easier time finalizing the divorce.
The respondent also forfeits any chance of influencing the divorce settlement by refusing to sign divorce papers. The respondent agrees to those terms insofar as the petitioner is granted the petitions for child custody, child support, property division, and alimony. There would be no chance for the respondent to challenge the petitioner’s conditions in court since they have waived their right to a hearing. Uncooperativeness on the part of one spouse will not prevent the divorce and may even make things worse for the other.
However, long court actions for your contested divorce may be necessary if your spouse decides to react within the thirty days and does not agree to the conditions. Most divorce cases end up in court, but not all.
How to Deal with an Uncooperative Spouse?
Working together is typically preferable, even if one partner is opposed to divorce. One spouse must petition the court to grant a divorce under the state’s no-fault divorce statutes. The opposing partner has no legal recourse to stop the divorce from proceeding.
Divorce may still be completed for the spouse who filed for it, even if the other spouse is unwilling to carry ahead with it. It may occur if one spouse refuses to sign the proof of service (a legal document announcing the divorce has been filed) or the pair cannot agree on any outstanding problems. A spouse’s lack of cooperation might be shown if they refuse to sign divorce papers.
Ask your partner directly the reason for refusing to sign. Occasionally, you may be able to fix a problem on your own. Sometimes a spouse may promise to sign only if certain conditions are met. In such a scenario, reaching a compromise may be a breeze, so it’s important to find out whether that’s the case right from the get.
If your spouse is stubborn and refuses to sign the documents, you may have them served by a friend, adult family member, the sheriff, or a process server. The divorce proceeding officially begins with the serving procedure, and the court mandates the sending of the evidence of service regardless of whether or not the spouse signs it.
If it doesn’t work, you must go to your county courthouse and file for divorce. Again, this is possible even if your partner is uncooperative. After that, you’ll be given a court date when you may present your case and provide any further paperwork the court requests, such as financial information.
The best way to ensure that your divorce settlement is fair and equitable is to take an active role in the process. A family law divorce attorney in California can clarify your legal choices and rights in the event of a divorce.
What You Can Do to Help Resolve Your Divorce Case
A spouse has no legal recourse to prevent a divorce. If the petitioner decides not to go on, the procedure ends. Respondents in divorce cases have little recourse to challenge the petitioner’s demands via a motion. It will put off the next step until the couple has settled on the divorce’s terms or a judge has made a ruling. In certain cases, such as when a respondent is on military service, the court may extend the deadline for filing a response beyond 30 days.
Getting in touch with a Los Angeles divorce mediation attorney should be your first step in settling your case to see if you can avoid going straight to the more expensive divorce litigation proceedings.
Whatever method of divorce proceedings you choose, a lawyer may be able to persuade your spouse to sign the papers and view things from your perspective. The divorce process may be finalized considerably more swiftly with the aid of an attorney than it would be for you to do it on your own. Additionally, your lawyer will be able to watch out for your best interests and defend your legal rights.
Summary: Is It OK to Refuse a Divorce in California?
Neither you nor your spouse may legally forbid the other from divorcing you. Initiating or continuing divorce procedures against your husband do not require a signature from either party under California’s no-fault divorce rules.
No amount of forgetfulness or deliberation on the part of either spouse will prevent the divorce from going through. If one spouse fails or refuses to sign, the other will lose all legal protections under the law. Ignoring divorce documents won’t prevent the divorce from happening; it will, however, prevent you from having any say in important issues like child custody, alimony, and property distribution.
Complete a legal document called a “response” if you want a role in these matters, the outcomes of which might affect your money, property rights, and parenting time with your children. Get in touch with the Law Offices of Leon F. Bennett now to learn about your rights and options during a California divorce.