If you filed the Original Petition for Divorce in Texas, but your spouse refuses to sign the divorce papers, you might wonder, “Does it mean I cannot get a divorce?” Fortunately, the answer is, “No, it doesn’t.”
Even if your spouse does not want to sign the divorce papers, you can still end your marriage and finalize the divorce in Texas. However, if your spouse is trying to stall the divorce, it is advisable to consult with a McLennan County divorce attorney to help you navigate the process and deal with the uncooperative spouse.
If the roles are reversed, learn what to do if your spouse wants a divorce and you do not here.
Do I Need My Spouse’s Consent to Get a Divorce in Texas?
Long gone are the ways when a spouse needed the other spouse’s consent to get a divorce. While seeking an uncontested divorce to end a marriage amicably is an easier, quicker, and cheaper way to end a marriage, you can also get a divorce despite your spouse’s refusal to sign the divorce papers.
As long as you meet the residency requirement to file for divorce in Texas, you have a right to file the Original Petition for Divorce to initiate the process. Then, your spouse is served with divorce papers and has a chance to respond to your petition.
However, even if your spouse does not consent to a divorce, refuses to sign the divorce papers, or avoids being served, you can still finalize your divorce.
Note: In order to meet the residency requirement for divorce, you must be able to prove that you or your spouse has lived in Texas for the past at least six months before the filing. If you're preparing to file, read our article on the divorce process in Texas.
Why a Spouse May Refuse to Sign the Divorce Papers
While you can get a divorce despite your spouse’s lack of consent or cooperation, it may be useful to understand why your spouse is refusing to sign the divorce documents to be able to move forward with your case more efficiently.
Common reasons we see for spouses to refuse to sign the divorce papers include:
1. They think they can prevent a divorce
Spouses who won’t sign the divorce documents mistakenly believe that they can prevent their spouse from getting a divorce. In reality, however, the Petitioner can obtain a divorce despite the Respondent’s refusal to sign or cooperate.
2. They are financially dependent
Another common reason for spouses to engage in stalling tactics is financial dependence. When the Respondent spouse is financially dependent on the Petitioner, they may do whatever it takes to delay the divorce process.
3. They are in denial
When the Respondent does not want to accept the fact that their marriage is broken beyond repair, they may refuse to sign the documents in an attempt to “save” the marriage.
4. They do not agree to the terms of the divorce
Spouses may be unable to reach an agreement regarding the terms of their divorces. When this happens, the Respondent spouse may be unwilling to cooperate.
Contact a skilled divorce attorney to help you and your spouse come to an agreement regarding all the contested issues in your divorce case.
What Happens if Your Spouses Refuses to Sign the Divorce Papers?
If your spouse is unwilling to cooperate or refuses to sign the divorce papers, it is important to work with a knowledgeable attorney to help you move forward with your case.
While you can get a divorce despite your spouse’s refusal to sign the papers, doing so may be complicated if you do not have an experienced lawyer on your side.
At The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard, our skilled divorce lawyers will advise you on your options to ensure that you can finalize your divorce through a default judgment.
Below are the three options that may be available in your case if your spouse is refusing to sign the divorce papers in Texas:
1. Request a court hearing for a default judgment
If your spouse refuses to sign the documents upon service or has not filed their response to your petition, your attorney will submit a motion requesting the court to enter a default judgment.
However, under Texas law, your divorce cannot be finalized before the 60th day after filing the divorce petition. If your spouse does not respond to your petition or refuses to sign the divorce papers, the judge may issue a default judgment after the 60-day waiting period has passed.
2. Get your spouse to the mediation table
Mediation is a cheaper, faster, and more efficient alternative to traditional divorce litigation. It allows the parties to negotiate a mutually beneficial agreement with the help of a neutral, third-party mediator.
If your spouse does not want to sign the divorce papers because they do not agree to the terms of the divorce, consider mediation.
Did you know that mediation can be done online in Texas?
3. Take your divorce to trial
The last option is to take your divorce case to trial. It may be the most effective way to deal with an uncooperative spouse who won’t sign the divorce documents.
The downside of divorce litigation is that it can be an expensive and time-consuming process. By taking your case to trial, you are essentially letting the judge decide the divorce-related issues for you (though it should be noted that your trial will be a bench trial; read here on the difference between a Texas jury trial and a bench trial.)
However, if you request a court hearing for a default judgment due to your spouse’s refusal to sign the papers, the judge may decide your case without hearing the Respondent’s side.
Before taking your case to trial or requesting a default judgment, speak with a knowledgeable attorney to explore all of your options.
Get a Free Consultation with a McLennan County Divorce Attorney
You should get in touch with a skilled divorce lawyer if your spouse refuses to sign the divorce papers in Texas. Our divorce attorneys at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard offer a free consultation.
Speak with a McLennan County divorce attorney to decide on how best to proceed in your unique situation. Our attorneys will explain what you can do to move forward with your case despite your spouse’s unwillingness to cooperate. Call 254-501-4040 to receive a case review today.