What Happens if My Spouse Won’t Sign the Divorce Papers?

Posted On December 17, 2020 Divorce

The decision to divorce can be extremely difficult, and many couples find themselves with opposing views. If your spouse refuses to sign the divorce papers, you can still get a divorce in Washington state. As long as your spouse is served the papers, notifying them that you are seeking divorce, you can legally proceed with the divorce process if they don’t respond within the given time limit. 

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce

A contested divorce means that the parties cannot agree on every single aspect of the divorce. The court will determine the final outcome. Contested divorces usually take longer to resolve, can be more expensive due to court fees, and you have less control over the outcome. Since the courts will have the final say over your divorce order. 

A divorce is classified as uncontested when both parties agree on every aspect of their split. This is sometimes possible with the use of mediation and other collaborative divorce processes, that utilize a third party to help both sides work towards a favorable agreement. There are numerous benefits to an uncontested divorce, including a shorter process for reaching resolution, being less expensive since it’s settled outside of court, and you get a say in the final agreement. 

Serving the Divorce Papers

The court must be shown proof that your spouse has been served the petition to divorce papers. When a spouse is uncooperative, a process server can be hired to find that spouse and hand him or her the Summons and Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The process server will then file an affidavit with the court stating that the spouse has received the necessary paperwork. When a spouse cannot be found, the court may allow alternative ways to “serve” the divorce papers, such as mailing them to the last known address or posting a divorce notice in the local paper with a notice to respond by a certain date. 

Obtaining a Default Divorce Order

Once the papers are served, the state will typically allow your spouse 20 days to file a Response to the Petition. If your spouse does not respond, it will not stall the divorce process, and it might actually help your divorce move through the legal system quickly. At that point, a motion for an Order of Default can be filed, allowing you to complete the divorce without your spouse. In effect, not signing the divorce papers means your spouse is giving up their right to contest your terms or negotiate a divorce settlement agreement. Once 90 days have passed since the date you filed and served your spouse the papers, you can enter a final divorce Decree. The court does require the final Decree to match the terms set in the Petition. 

Get Help from a Spokane Divorce Attorney

Contact the Washington state divorce lawyers at Twyford Law Office if your spouse won’t sign divorce papers, is refusing to cooperate, or simply cannot be found. We offer free consultations and will discuss your legal options for moving forward. Call (509) 327-0777 or reach us online today. 

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