What Happens if a Spouse Refuses to Sign Divorce Papers?

We want marriages that’ll last forever. Unfortunately, in many cases, that doesn’t happen. But if a spouse wants out, can you refuse a divorce?

The divorce becomes contested if your spouse refuses to sign divorce papers. This does not mean that the divorce won’t go through, but the divorce process will likely be extended. You will have to set a hearing and present evidence to a judge who will determine the terms of the divorce.

Even without a spouse’s consent, a marriage can still be dissolved.

But there’s a lot more to know. This article will explore whether someone can force you to divorce them and how long a spouse can drag out a divorce. We’ll also find out how long a one-sided divorce take and other vital issues around divorce.

Let’s get into it.

Can someone force you to divorce them?

Yes. Someone can force you to divorce them. If a person has made up their mind that they want out of a marriage and have started divorce proceedings, they can divorce you, even if that’s the last thing you want.

I appreciate it’s a difficult time.

In fact, it can be daunting. But as you probably know, there’s no law that compels someone to be married to a person they no longer want to be married to.

So, even if you’re not in favor of divorce and you’re ready to make the marriage work, you can’t force a person to remain married to you (looking at it from their perspective). They have a legal right to dissolve the marriage if they so desire.

Now, the law has provisions that help couples take their time so that they don’t make hasty decisions when it concerns the dissolution of their marriage. And many have found this incredibly beneficial.

But the law also knows the danger of forcing people together. So, you’ll want to tactfully try to get your partner to reconsider their decision to initiate a divorce case.

You could find an opportune time when both parties are calm to discuss their concerns and make them realize that you respect their decision but that you believe both of you, with reasonable effort, can work things out.

And that because of what you both share (love and children), you’ll appreciate it if they devote a few months to making the marriage better, after which they could proceed with their initial plan if they so desire. If you have children, you may want to stress what’s in the best interest of the children.

If the ink isn’t dry yet on the divorce, all hope is not lost. 

Say you’d like your wife back even before the divorce, what are the steps you could take? In a recent article I published, I shared 10 reasons women leave and 6 ways to prevent a wife from leaving.

But I also shared whether wives come back after divorce and how to make your wife want you back.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

How long can a spouse drag out a divorce?

A spouse can drag out divorce for months or years.

It depends on the specific situation and the nature of the spouse. But you’re not defenseless if you’re confronted with such a situation.

A skilled attorney will help you so you can explore legal means to finalize divorce proceedings within a reasonable time period.

An uncontested divorce is ideal. But the reality is that some divorces can be ugly. In such situations, one or both parties may want to make things more difficult than they ought to be.

This can be extremely costly (emotionally and financially) for both parties.

Because who likes it when others employ devious means to stop us from having what we really want? There are folks who seek to “destroy” their spouse if they can’t have them!

Some partners can stall a divorce for months or years, so you want to be very careful about how you go about things. Ideally, you want a collaborative divorce or at least an uncontested divorce.

But if you realize that your partner is deliberately and unnecessarily stalling, the first step is to have a calm discussion with them about why it’s beneficial for both of you to resolve the matter amicably.

If they’re still being recalcitrant, you’ll want to talk to an attorney to know what legal options you can explore.

Say your wife has left, how can you get her back even after the divorce has been finalized?

In a recent article, I shared whether she can fall in love with you again and what percentage of divorced couples remarry. But I also shared how you’ll know if she wants you back.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

How long does a one-sided divorce take?

How long a one-sided divorce takes depends on the state.

On average, if you can prove you’ve been separated for at least a year, you may be divorced soon after. But each state has its laws around divorce.

In my case in Texas, our divorce was finalized about 90 days after we filed. But our divorce was not contested, and we came to an agreement and hired 1 lawyer to simply file the paperwork.

The paperwork requirements, such as the divorce complaint, residency requirement, mandatory separation, and waiting period, vary from locale to locale. Ideally, you’ll want to find out the divorce laws in the state you reside in.

But expect a contested divorce to take a lot longer.

As such, the time the initial divorce petition was filed and the first to the final court hearing takes place depends on your jurisdiction.

On average, it will take a lawyer a week or two to draw up a petition for divorce, and your spouse has between 20 to 60 days to respond. Then, the hearings.

Apart from legislation, other factors could affect how long a one-sided divorce takes.

The terms of the divorce as it relates to child support, child custody, spousal support, and property division. The judge may be constrained to grant a default divorce if one party fails to respond to the divorce petition! Effectively a default judgment.

Women often line up replacements before leaving or filing for divorce. That’s just the reality. 

Wondering whether your ex’s rebound will last?

That’s what I get into in a recent article I published where I shared 9 solid reasons why their rebound may last.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

How to legally stop a divorce

If both parties agree to stop a divorce that is still in process, one or both parties have to file a request to the court that divorce proceedings be terminated. The court will grant the request under certain conditions.

At any time before the final hearing, a judge may grant the request for termination.

As long as it’s before the final hearing, this request can be presented. Just as the law cannot force people to remain married, it cannot force them to continue with divorce proceedings when they’ve changed their minds.

Now, it’s a tad complicated if it’s just one party that wants the proceedings stopped. 

As it should be. The party must file a notice of revocation. It’s also known as a notice of withdrawal. It must be filed with the court, and the other spouse must get a copy. What happens next is a function of the stage of the divorce proceedings is at.

If the other party has not even responded to the divorce petition, you’ll be allowed to file a voluntary dismissal. If they have responded to the proceedings, the judge may not automatically grant the request to legally stop the divorce.

Both parties may be required to enter into and sign a stipulation for voluntary dismissal if they agree.

If they do not agree, they may be invited to an “oral argument”, where they’ll present their case on why the request should or should not be granted. If the court finds no legitimate reason to deny the request, it will be granted.

How do you deal with a divorce when you don’t want it?

The reality is, why would you want to stay with someone who doesn’t want you?

I get it sucks, and it hurts, and it’s lonely and confusing. I’ve been exactly there. But don’t you deserve to be with someone who thinks you are too important to lose?

So instead of wallowing in self-pity, or scheming to find a way to change their mind, focus on yourself.

I know that sounds counter-intuitive.

Tap into your support network, be positive, seek therapy, don’t rush into a new relationship, and seek refuge in facets of your life that are going very well.

Don’t be in denial. It’s one of life’s most painful experiences, but you’ve got to accept that it’s over.

The pain won’t suddenly go away, but you’ve got this if you’re positive. Being positive can help us cope with most challenges in life. Now, I know it’s easier said than done.

But it’s super-effective. After all, we know that our mindset and dominant thoughts are vital to how well we deal with life’s challenges.

Focus on the beautiful things in your life (your work, service to the community, children, hobbies, spirituality…). Focus on being the best version of yourself that you can be.

Don’t try to be the strong type who believes they can handle everything independently. 

Spend time with friends and family members that have an uplifting vibe and who can make you laugh. You can’t force anyone to remain married to you. So whether the divorce has been finalized or not, accept the reality that it’s happened.

If you can afford it, get a therapist.

Even if you’re not the one who initiated the divorce, talking with a professional about how you really feel can help you a lot and can help you prepare for future relationships.

You’ll get to know yourself better and may even have insights into some problematic facets of your marriage.

Remember: somewhere in you is the person your spouse fell in love with.

But over time, in long-term relationships, we often lose sight of the qualities and activities we found important back when we first met our spouse.

We get complacent.

Maybe we stop going to the gym, we stop hanging out with friends, and we stop doing the hobbies that brought us joy.

That puts a lot of pressure on our spouse to fill all those needs.

But it also means we are no longer the person they fell in love with. So get back to being that person! If anything works to attract them back to you, that will.

But even if it doesn’t work, you’ll be happier, healthier, and better set up for the next great love of your life.

Now, all hope is not lost. Sometimes there is still hope that you and your ex get back together. 

To help you, check out a recent article where I explored how you could save your marriage after divorce.

In it, I shared 9 effective strategies you could employ to save your marriage after divorce. Just click the link to read it on my site.


Whether it’s on fault grounds or because of irreconcilable differences, a divorce can be daunting for all parties involved.

In the article, we explored what you could do if a party refuses to sign the divorce papers, whether someone can force you to divorce them, and how long a spouse can drag out a divorce.

We also covered how to stop a divorce legally and even how to deal with divorce if you don’t want it.

Of course, I have to add that I am not a lawyer, nor do I know the laws in your state or country. I am, however, divorced (twice) and have recent experience going through one. However, my comments and articles should not be taken as legal or professional advice. If you need legal or professional advice you should consult a professional in your area.

Image by Victoria_rt from Pixabay

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