Divorce can happen for any number of reasons. While 21.6% of respondents in a study published by the Journal of Family Issues cited infidelity as the reason their marriage ended, it’s by no means the only determining factor. Regardless of the reason, you’ll likely need a divorce lawyer to help ensure your rights (and the rights of any children you share) are protected.
But what happens if your spouse refuses to sign the paperwork? In cases in which uncontested divorce forms are filed, you may not have to worry about whether your spouse will agree to the divorce. However, if you cannot locate your spouse or they have refused to agree to a divorce, you may think you’re stuck in your situation. Florida divorce lawyers will tell you that that’s not true. Here’s what you need to know about filing for divorce when your spouse won’t cooperate.
Uncontested divorce is the most straightforward kind (if there is such a thing), but spouses may not always agree on everything. However, with this type of divorce, both spouses will file the uncontested divorce forms with the court and work together on division of assets, parental responsibility, and other issues.
If your spouse won’t agree to a divorce, not all is lost. In Florida, only one of the spouses needs to want the divorce in order for the state to grant the request. You can do it without the assistance of your spouse. However, the process may take longer and you may have to go through a trial in order to divide up assets and to decide on parental responsibility, if applicable.
In these types of circumstances, your divorce will be considered a contested one. You’ll have to serve your spouse paperwork, to which they can file an answer (or not) in court. Divorce lawyers will tell you that your spouse has 20 days to respond to your petition. If they still haven’t answered, the court can reclassify the case as uncontested and schedule a hearing for a default judgment. But if your spouse does file an answer, the process can be dragged out for a number of reasons. Contested divorces are often much more complex, so having an attorney is crucial.
Ultimately, your spouse does not have to sign uncontested divorce forms (or contested divorce forms) for you to obtain a divorce. But if it’s at all possible to work together on an agreement, it’s usually beneficial for both parties. If you’re having trouble locating your spouse or they refuse to cooperate, your lawyer will be able to explain your options moving forward and guide you through the process.