What happens if a person refuses to sign divorce papers?

Updated April 04, 2017

Generally, when a spouse wants to file for a divorce, he or she consults with the other spouse in order to determine if the spouses can agree on filing for a divorce. If the couple agrees, this is known as an "uncontested" divorce. However, when a spouse cannot agree or one of the parties refuses to sign uncontested divorce papers, the divorce becomes known as a "contested" divorce. In such an instance, it is necessary for a contested divorce action to be filed in court.

Contested Divorce Initial Procedure

Generally, a contested divorce action begins with the filing of a petition to the appropriate court, usually the family court. The petition only requires the signature of one spouse. The petition should contain an allegation that the marriage has dissolved. Additionally, the petition should include any basis for the divorce, if the state's applicable statute requires such information to be contained in the document. The petition should only include those items required by statute.

Contested Divorce Action

Once the initial petition has been filed, the divorce action may proceed. Generally, the divorce action will include a review of the distribution of property and assets of the spouses, as well as a review of child issues if applicable, such as child support, child custody and visitation. The couple may agree about these matters, but they may be unable to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. As a result, a trial may be necessary in order to resolve these issues. At the trial, each party must present evidence and prove the basis for the divorce and any other issues requiring resolution. Once a determination on the divorce and related issues has been obtained, a judgment for divorce will be issued by the court.

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About the Author

J.S. Nogara began writing in 2000, publishing in legal texts, newspapers, newsletters and on various websites. Her credits include updating "New York Practice Guides: Negligence." She is a licensed attorney admitted to the New York State courts and the Federal Court, Southern District in New York. She has a B.S. from the University of Connecticut, a J.D. and an LL.M. degree.