Gone are the days when fault had to be assigned in divorce cases. Not many decades ago, one spouse would have to prove cruelty, adultery or some other kind of mistreatment to get a divorce. Today, all 50 states provide a no fault divorce option. This makes the divorce process easier. Nonetheless, one spouse can complicate the proceedings by refusing to sign the paperwork.
Filing for Divorce
In most jurisdictions, it’s only necessary for one spouse to complete and file the divorce paperwork. The papers must be formally served on the other spouse, who then has a specified time period in which to respond. If the spouse filed under a fault provision, the other spouse may refuse to sign paperwork or to file a response that simply agrees to all stipulations in the original filing. Sometimes this is because they object to the wording of the filing, the division of property or the child custody arrangements. This is commonly known as a contested divorce.
Of course, a spouse may refuse to cooperate even during no fault divorce proceedings. Any time that the two parties cannot agree on the terms of their divorce, they can expect to be called in for a court hearing.
The time leading up to the court hearing can be contentious. Hopefully, both parties are working with legal counsel, which can smooth out some of the bumps in the road. While waiting for the hearing date, the parties may participate in mediation to see if an agreement can be reached. If not, then both parties must appear before a judge who will listen to testimony and review evidence before deciding on the proper division of property and the arrangements for child custody and support.
Sometimes the other spouse refuses to cooperate in any fashion. Not only do they refuse to sign paperwork, but they also refuse to participate in mediation and they don’t show up for court dates. In these circumstances, the petitioning spouse may request a default divorce action. This means that the court will accept the version of circumstances as presented by the petitioning spouse. They tend to abide by the paperwork as filed without considering the other spouse’s position. Default proceedings are usually commenced after a specified time period, such as six months. The petitioner is granted a divorce without the necessity for obtaining a signature from the other party.