When filing for divorce, it is common for couples to have disagreements. However, a spouse who refuses to sign the divorce papers or participate in proceedings can make the process even more stressful. Whether your spouse refuses to sign because they believe you can repair the relationship or simply want to make the process more difficult, you can still get divorced. Here are the steps to file for divorce even if your spouse doesn’t want to split:
Step 1: File Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
The first step in getting divorced is filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the family court where you and your spouse last resided. In a “no-fault” divorce state like Florida, you don’t need to prove wrongdoing to get divorced. One spouse just needs to file the petition with the grounds that the marriage is irretrievably broken for the process to proceed. The petition should outline the divorce terms, such as potential child support and spousal support (alimony) payments, proposed time-sharing arrangements, and asset distribution.
Step 2: Serve and Respond
After filing the petition, it’s served to your spouse. They have 20 days to respond, either by signing the petition or entering a counter-petition. In a counter-petition, your spouse can explain why they don’t want the marriage to end and suggest alternative methods, such as therapy, to repair the relationship. Then, you’d enter mediation, where you and your spouse would attempt to reach an amicable agreement. Even if your spouse suggests therapy and other methods, they aren’t prerequisites for getting divorced.
Step 3: When a Spouse Doesn’t Respond to Petition
Some believe not responding to the petition or delaying signing will avoid continuing divorce proceedings. However, this is not true. If your spouse doesn’t respond within the 20-day timeframe without petitioning for an extension, you could be granted a default divorce.
Step 4: File for a Default Divorce
A default divorce may be awarded if your ex-spouse fails to respond to the divorce petition. When you’re granted a default judgment, your spouse forfeits their rights regarding the divorce terms, including asset division and potential custody arrangements. The final judgment will be made without your spouse’s input, and a hearing will be scheduled. Your spouse isn’t required to attend this meeting or be notified about the proceedings.
Can You File for Divorce If You Don’t Know Where Your Spouse Lives?
Yes, you can still file for divorce if you don’t know the whereabouts of your ex-spouse. However, you’ll need to show that you attempted to locate them. You must submit an Affidavit of Diligent Search and Inquiry to confirm that you attempted to search for them. The affidavit will attest that you tried to locate your spouse by methods such as locating a forwarding address with the post office, seeking out past employers, or contacting friends or relatives.
Can You Refuse a Divorce?
No, you cannot refuse a divorce. Once the divorce petition is filed, your spouse must respond, either by agreeing with the petition or submitting a counter-petition. You can get a default judgment if your spouse ignores the petition and doesn’t respond.
Central Florida Divorce Attorneys: Remsen Family Law Firm
Divorce can be complex and challenging, especially when spouses don’t agree. Matters are even more complicated when your spouse won’t cooperate with the proceedings. However, you can still get divorced, even if your spouse doesn’t agree or ignores the order. At Remsen Family Law Firm, we’ll help you file for divorce, whether it’s contested, uncontested, or a default judgment. Call our Orlando office today for a low-cost consultation to discuss your case.