1. People & Relationships

Can My Spouse Refuse to Sign Divorce Papers?

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Question: Can My Spouse Refuse to Sign Divorce Papers?

Shortly after we married my husband mistook me for a punching bag. I ended up in the hospital with severe injuries and have not lived with him since. When I told him that I was divorcing him he told me that he would not sign divorce papers, that he wouldn’t allow me to divorce him. Can he keep me from getting a divorce by refusing to sign the paperwork?

Answer:

No, he can’t. He doesn’t have the legal right to dictate to you whether or not you can obtain a divorce. His response is not uncommon for someone who thinks it is OK to beat a spouse but, he is misguided in his belief that he has that kind of control.

You can retain a divorce attorney and have that attorney file a petition for divorce with or without your husband’s permission. Or, you can visit your local court clerk and ask for information about filing for a divorce without an attorney.

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

In some states if your husband doesn’t respond to the initial filing of the divorce a court date will be set. This can take longer but, if your husband doesn’t show up for the court date 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 though, you can get a divorce without his signature.

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