What Happens in California When One Person Refuses to Sign Divorce Papers?

In a marriage, it takes two to tango. If one person doesn’t want to dance, the music stops. While divorce happens due to dissatisfaction in a marriage, sometimes the unhappiness is one-sided. For some, being served divorce papers is an unsuspecting and devastating surprise. But what happens when one person doesn’t want to divorce, or is refusing to sign the divorce papers?

What changes in the process? Can someone still obtain a divorce even if the other party refuses to sign the paperwork? These are the most frequently asked questions we are asked as divorce mediators. The answers may surprise you.

Default Divorce

Only one party needs to file a petition for a divorce. Once served with the divorce petition, the other party has 30 days to respond in California. If they refuse to respond, refuse to sign divorce papers (notice of acknowledgment) and do not want to attend mediation or show up on the court date, the case can be decided as a default divorce. This means everything that you requested in the petition will most likely be granted. This allows parties not to be held hostage in a marriage that they do not want to be in.

Spouse Refuses to Mediate

While you may want to divorce amicably, your spouse may not. Mediation must be agreed to by both parties and requires participation to help create a settlement agreement that works for both of you. Even with the vast emotional and financial benefits that mediation affords, some individuals just don’t wish to go through a divorce in that manner. If a spouse doesn’t want to pursue mediation, you must go through the court system to work out your conflict.

Notify Before Serving Divorce Papers in California

If you would like to approach your divorce with respect and care, it is important to notify your spouse before you serve your petition. Not only will this help them to cope with the stress of being served divorce paperwork, but it also it shows them that you wish to stay on good terms. It also gives you the opportunity to discuss mediation as a low-conflict option for your divorce.

Is your spouse refusing to sign divorce papers? If you are looking for an affordable and amicable way to divorce, contact our San Diego mediators at West Coast Family Mediation. Call (858) 736-2411 to schedule your consultation today!

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2 Responses

  • Thanks for pointing out that it is best to notify the other party about serving divorce papers to show respect and care. I will share this information with my sister now that she plans to file for divorce this year. It’s because of how they have drifted apart over the five years of not being able to spend a lot of time together. So this step would help them handle the divorce with ease.

  • It really helped when you said that it would be best to notify your spouse that you are going to hire a divorce paper server to serve your petition to show them you respect and care for them. I guess my sister should know this tip so that she can file for divorce without that much issue from the other party. She just feels like it is the best thing she could do now that they haven’t been really seeing eye to eye for the past two years, and she tried everything on her part as well.

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