How to Get a Divorce If My Spouse Won't Sign the Papers
In many popular romantic comedies, one person wants a divorce and the other does not. In order to keep the divorce from happening, that person refuses to sign the divorce papers. In the movie, the divorce cannot happen because both people haven’t signed the divorce papers.
Real life is completely different. One party cannot force a marriage to continue if the other wants to dissolve the marriage. Usually, when one party refuses to cooperate, the judge will make the final decisions at a contested hearing. Keep reading to learn more about how to proceed with a divorce if your spouse refuses to sign the divorce papers.
The Texas Divorce Process
A typical divorce in Texas takes about six months to a year. At minimum, the judge will not sign the final order until at least 60 days after the petition is filed. These are the typical steps necessary for a Texas divorce:
- The first part of the process is when one party files a petition. The petition is a way to let the Court know what you want in the divorce and under what grounds you are filing. This is also the time to ask for a temporary restraining order so that your spouse cannot dispose of your assets. You can also ask for an order of protection if there is violence or harassment.
- After the filing of the petition, the other party has 20 days to respond. The responding party must make it clear if there are any disagreements. Otherwise, the Court will go with the requests in the petition, at least temporarily. These may include arrangements for child support and custody or living arrangements. The Court may issue a default against the party who does not respond. Failing to respond will not delay the divorce.
- Parties can try to work out an arrangement and submit it to the Court in writing. If you and your spouse can agree, you can write out a final order for the judge to sign. This order will include everything from spousal support to child custody to giving back a spouse’s maiden name. While it may be difficult to imagine, working toward an agreement can help give you closure on your marriage.
- Again, if the other party refuses to sign a proposed agreement, the divorce process will still continue. At this point, the judge will set a final hearing where the parties can present their cases. If you can prove that your spouse had proper legal notice of the hearing but refused to appear, you can ask the judge for a default. Once the judge issues a default, your divorce is final.
What Is a Default?
If the party served with a divorce petition does not respond, the judge may find that your petition should be granted. If there are assets to be divided, you will need to show that the proposed division is fair and just. When there are children involved, your proposal must support what is in the best interests of the children. In short, a default is simply where the other party does not respond so the person who filed the petition gets what they want.
A Default Hearing
You can ask for a default hearing if the time has passed in which your spouse was allowed to respond. You must serve notice of the hearing so your spouse has a chance to be present. At the hearing, you can ensure that the court makes a good record of what the final order should be.
Bring Your Evidence and Documents
Even though you are asking for the judge to grant your petition as written, you still need to bring your evidence and the documents that will complete your divorce. Here are some of the most important ones:
- Your final divorce decree, which will reflect what you asked for in your original petition.
- A wage withholding order, if there is child support involved.
- The child support information sheet shows both parents’ incomes so that the judge will understand how you figured the order.
- In Texas divorces with children, parents will need to fill out the BVS or Bureau of Vital Statistics form.
How Your Family Law Attorney Can Help
Most of the time, divorcing parties either work together to come to an agreement or fight their way through a contested final hearing. However, there are some parties that refuse to participate. In those cases, you may be able to get a default judgment. With a default judgment, you will have a faster resolution, meaning that you spend less money and have less stress. At Setzer Law Firm, our attorneys can help you find the option that works best for you. Contact us today or visit our Colleyville office to learn more.