Even when a marriage is on the rocks, many people still do not want to get divorced. If you are ready to move on from your marriage, but your spouse won’t sign the paperwork, what are your options?
The Initial Petition
When a person refuses to sign the initial petition asking for a divorce, his or her spouse can file the paperwork anyway. The initial petition does not have to be signed by both parties, and the case can begin without the other person’s consent.
However, if the spouse refuses to sign the petition, then he or she must be legally served with the documents. The paperwork can be served on the person by anyone over the age of 18, but service is usually made through the Sheriff’s Office or a licensed process server.
If the spouse is attempting to avoid the divorce case by hiding from the process servers, the person may be served using the mail system. If all else fails and the person cannot be found and served, the filing spouse may be able to publish a notice in the paper with permission of the court.
During the Case
If your spouse fails to cooperate with the divorce case, the court has the power to move the proceedings along.
If the spouse refuses to attend court and does not file a response to the divorce petition, the court can enter a default judgment granting the divorce. In many cases, the judge will grant the majority of the relief requested in the divorce petition, and the absent spouse will not be able to contest that decision unless he or she had a valid reason for failing to respond to the case.
If the spouse does file a response to the divorce petition but refuses to participate in the case—for instance, by refusing to attend mediation or by failing to comply with a judge’s orders, then the judge can issue penalties like fines against that spouse and hold him or her in contempt until they comply.
Final Divorce Paperwork
If your spouse stops cooperating with the divorce process after the case begins and will not consent to any settlement agreement, then the court will have no choice but to hold a trial to determine any outstanding issues in the case. Rather than allowing the parties to work out issues like child support or property division between the two of them, the judge will decide everything based on state law and applicable guidelines.
The divorce process is quicker and easier when both parties cooperate with each other. However, if one spouse simply refuses to participate in the divorce, the case will move on with or without that person. If you believe that your spouse will try and stall or delay your divorce case, contact the Washington divorce attorneys at Pacific Northwest Family Law. We can help you move your case forward, and will work to ensure that you receive a divorce agreement that fits your family’s needs.
To schedule your consultation at Pacific Northwest Family Law, contact us today by calling 590-572-3700.