What happens if divorce papers go unsigned?

Updated March 18, 2017

In most states, a divorce will be granted even if just one party wants it. Some people try to stall or even stop the divorce process by refusing to sign any papers that come their way. However, even when one party refuses to sign the papers, the divorce will inevitably be approved.

Refusal to Sign

Once you have filed divorce papers, your spouse will be served a copy of the papers. He will have the chance to read through them and decide if he is OK with what you are asking or if he would like to make changes. However, he may decide that he does not want the divorce and therefore that he is not going to sign the papers at all. If he were to sign the papers, the divorce would be finalised as an uncontested divorce. Failure to sign the papers will result in the case becoming a contested divorce.

Court Date

Once your spouse has decided that she will not sign the papers, a court date will be scheduled. In some states, the court process moves quickly and you could see a court date within the month. In other states, however, the process is longer and it may take several months to get the court date. An uncontested divorce requires much more time than if your spouse simply signed the papers. If she will not sign, your divorce will lay in the hands of a judge.

Court Hearing

When your court date arrives, you and your spouse will appear before a judge. Your spouse will have the opportunity to explain to the judge why he does not want to sign the papers. The judge will look at all of the aspects of the divorce and anything that is not agreed upon by the couple will be decided by the judge. It is very rare that a judge would hear a divorce case and decide not to grant the divorce.

Stalled Process

In some cases, when one party fails to sign the papers, the process will stall. If you file and your spouse does not sign, it is up to you or your attorney to continue to pursue the divorce. As long as you do not miss any court dates, the case will sit in limbo until the divorce papers are signed or you request a hearing to be held. There is no statute of limitations on the divorce papers. However, if there is a court date scheduled and neither of you show up, the case may be dismissed.

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About the Author

Kimberly Turtenwald began writing professionally in 2000. She has written content for various websites, including Lights 2 You, Online Consultation, Corpus Personal Injury and more. Turtenwald studied editing and publishing at Wisconsin Lutheran College.