What If My Spouse Won’t Sign Divorce Papers?
“What happens if I want to end my marriage but my spouse won’t sign the divorce papers?”
As divorce attorneys in Oklahoma, we sometimes hear this question. Even when both people can agree that a marriage is ending, one spouse might be reluctant to take the final step.
Many of our clients are relieved to hear that getting a divorce is possible even when one spouse refuses to sign the divorce papers. According to Oklahoma law, a spouse does not need to sign papers in order for the divorce to go through.
Why Your Spouse Refuses to Sign Divorce Papers
It’s important to understand why your spouse refuses to sign the divorce papers, especially when it is clear that the marriage is over. Divorces are highly emotional situations – both spouses may be hurt, angry, confused, and apprehensive about the future. Emotions can run even higher when there are children involved, or when the two parties own joint property.
Your spouse may be refusing to finalize the divorce in hopes of working things out and saving the marriage. They may also refuse to sign the divorce papers as leverage, trying to get you to give up custody of the children or hand over financial assets. Sometimes spouses refuse to sign divorce papers simply to make things more complicated.
Discovering the reason your spouse refuses to sign can help you move the process along a little more quickly. However, you may never determine why your spouse is being difficult, but you can still continue the divorce process.
How to Get a Divorce in Oklahoma
There are three basic steps to getting a divorce in Oklahoma:
- Filing divorce documents
- Proper notification of all parties involved
- Attending a scheduled meeting in court
Proper notification usually involves a sheriff’s deputy or other officer serving the spouse with divorce papers. The court will hold a hearing if the two spouses cannot agree on terms or contest certain terms.
The court may proceed with the divorce proceedings and order a judgment by default if one spouse fails to appear at that hearing. An Oklahoma court can issue a default divorce if one spouse doesn’t sign the divorce papers and doesn’t participate in hearings or other divorce court proceedings.
All documents filed in a divorce proceeding lay out specific timelines and deadlines by which the two spouses must respond or take action, such as signing papers. Once a spouse fails to act within the timeline, the court may proceed without them and grant a “default divorce.”
Even if the court grants a default divorce to one spouse, the other spouse can file a motion to vacate (get rid of) the judgment within a certain time period – but only if they can provide a good reason for not signing the divorce papers or otherwise acting within the timelines.
Contact Brown & Gould For More Information About Divorce
If you are frustrated with a spouse that won’t sign divorce papers, consult with a family attorney who is familiar with the divorce process. Brown & Gould handle family and business law in Oklahoma. To learn more about your legal rights and to discover your options for moving forward when your spouse won’t sign the divorce papers, call or text us at (405) 235-4500.