What if My Spouse Refuses to Sign Divorce Papers?

person holding pen while other person points at paper

Though often easier when both spouses agree, divorce can still be carried out even if one spouse doesn’t agree to sign official documents. Each state has contrasting laws and regulations when it comes to this process. In Illinois, if your spouse doesn’t agree to sign divorce papers, you will have to request a hearing in which a judge will closely evaluate the circumstance and make a decision as to whether a divorce should be granted. However, it is very common for the refusing spouse to not show up for the hearing. This is when a default divorce is granted to the spouse filing the separation.

What Is a Contested Divorce?

A contested divorce is the official term used to describe a situation in which a spouse refuses to agree to a divorce. This could be in two different facets – the refusing spouse doesn’t agree with the terms and conditions set forth by the divorce, or they simply don’t want to be split up in the first place. In order to navigate a circumstance in which a spouse is in disagreement with the proposal of divorce, it’s important to understand why someone wouldn’t be inclined to the idea. Here are a few reasons a spouse might refuse to sign divorce papers:

  • fear of being alone
  • religious reasons
  • fear of judgment from friends and family
  • spiteful behavior towards a spouse
  • fear of financial instability

The thought of divorce is an emotional weight that’s difficult for anyone to carry. That’s why it’s important to remember that while someone might be refusing to sign divorce documents initially, their perspective can change over time. Let’s outline a few strategies to take should your spouse disregard your attempt to file a divorce:

Discussions Before Signatures

It doesn’t matter how calm a person is, if you walk in the door and slap divorce papers on the kitchen table, chances are your spouse is going to become very frustrated. It’s a normal human response when something comes as a bit of a shock. This is why it’s so important to approach the discussion in a calm and respectful manner. Once you’ve both had the opportunity to discuss the divorce at length, you can approach signatures for the necessary documents.

Seek Mediation

There are two routes for navigating a divorce discussion through mediation. The first being through the assistance of a family friend. While it may seem weird at first, if the friend is close to both you and your spouse, it could offer much-needed guidance if your spouse is very against the idea of divorce at first. The second and more legitimate alternative would be to hire a family guidance counselor. Through professional advice, a family guidance counselor can ensure that the situation does not escalate.

Restraining Orders

If you’re a victim of domestic abuse, the first two solutions might not be applicable. In this instance, you should seek a restraining order immediately. This can be done by hiring a divorce attorney who will advise you with the correct legal guidance. You can also contact the domestic abuse hotline for more assistance regarding your situation. There are always much more viable options than facing an abuser head-on.  

Find Your Divorce Solution

Whether you feel stranded in your divorce efforts or need to get out of an abusive relationship, let our divorce attorneys provide assistance. Our team of legal professionals can help you find your way out. Whether it’s a contested divorce or a divorce by default, the Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C. can assist you today!

For more information on what to do if your spouse refuses to sign divorce papers, contact us today!