During a divorce, it is common for one side to be the initiator. In fact, one spouse may fight against the divorce process. While many couples come into mediation to work together, it doesn’t always start that way, or sometimes end that way. Divorce doesn’t necessarily require both parties to agree to dissolution. A question we receive frequently is, “What if one party refuses to sign divorce papers?” The answer may surprise you.
The Petition & Service
When one party files for divorce initially, they are called the “petitioner.” All that is required is their signature on those initial court documents to begin the dissolution process. The trickier part is serving the other party with the filed petition. If you have a spouse that utterly refuses to participate in the divorce process, they may start to avoid being served. You must serve them with the petition. Our advice is to either hire a professional to serve them or if you cannot find them, you can perform service via publication. Your mediator can walk you through that process if need be.
What If One Party Refuses to Sign Divorce Papers at the End of the Process?
So perhaps you have gone through the entire mediation process, you have made agreements, and then your spouse refuses to continue. Since mediation is an entirely voluntary process, neither party is required to participate. However, that doesn’t mean you are stuck married to them forever. Instead, you would move forward with a default judgment. Your mediator at San Diego Family Mediation Center can walk you through the necessary court paperwork to do this. If your spouse changes their mind regarding mediation and has pursued litigation, there is little you can do. At least your divorce will be moving forward one way or another.
Are you in a situation where one party refuses to sign divorce papers? Contact West Coast Family Mediation Center for a free consultation.