Refusing Divorce Papers

It makes sense that often times when a marriage ends, only one person wants it to end. When this happens, it’s not uncommon for the unwilling spouse to refuse to sign the divorce papers. But what do you do if you’re on the other end of that refusal?

Refusal to Sign Divorce Papers

When an unwilling spouse is served with divorce papers, they often think if they refuse to sign, then the divorce cannot go through. But generally, and legally, someone cannot be forced to stay in a marriage they want to end. Refusing to sign divorce papers might by a spouse more time, but only until the inevitable happens.


If a spouse refuses to sign divorce papers because they do not agree with the stipulations of the divorce papers, there are alway the options of negotiation and compromise. This can either be done one-on-one, or spouse-to-spouse, or through the legal help of a family law lawyer. There are lawyers that specialize in more collaborative forms of law. If an agreement still cannot be reached, spouses may opt to appear before a court and a judge.

Contested Divorce

There are two types of divorce: fault and no fault. California is no fault divorce state. This means that neither spouse is blamed for the end of the marriage. Refusal of a spouse to sign the divorce papers does not result in the divorce not being granted. If your spouse refuses to sign the papers, you will need to file for a contested divorce in the family court in your jurisdiction. You will then need to have your soon-to-be ex served with the divorce papers, either through a process server or sheriff. This will provide proof that your spouse has indeed been notified of the divorce, and will thus need to respond.

Source: Law Dictionary, What If You Refus To Sign Divorce Papers? 2014

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