Know Your Options When Your Spouse Won’t Sign Divorce Papers
In Florida, no one can force you to stay married to someone. A divorce is always smoother when both parties cooperate, but you can obtain a divorce without your spouse’s signature. Florida grants no-fault divorces, which means that if one spouse attests that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the divorce can proceed.
There are several reasons a spouse might not sign the divorce papers, and each can present unique challenges. For example, in some cases, the spouse may be uncooperative. They may resist throughout the process and interacting with them can require a skillful approach that balances flexibility and firmness. In other cases, the spouse may be estranged, with their whereabouts unknown. To move forward, your divorce lawyer in Stuart, FL, will need to follow special service procedures to establish that the court may hear the case.
How to Obtain a Divorce Without a Signature
An uncontested divorce where the parties work together will save time, money, and frustration. If a spouse will not sign the divorce papers, the process will take longer and be more complex. However, the missing signature will not stop it. Instead, the party requesting the divorce will file the petition in court and serve papers on the other spouse. If they do not respond, the court may grant a default judgment. It is essentially an uncontested divorce because the non-filing spouse has not appeared to contest it.
If the spouse does respond and does not cooperate, it will be a contested divorce. The case will be litigated until it is voluntarily settled, or a judge decides open matters at a hearing.
Timeline for a Florida Divorce Without a Signature
The length of time that it will take to obtain a divorce without the other party’s signature will depend on the circumstances.
Once the petition is filed, the other spouse will have 20 days to respond. The process can be fairly quick if the other spouse’s whereabouts are known but they simply do not respond. It may take several months to ensure that they have been properly served, and then the filing party can request a default judgment.
It can take much longer if the other spouse responds and actively fights the divorce. Then, the parties will go through the steps of litigation, like discovery. They will likely also participate in mediation and settlement conferences. The case can be settled quickly if, through the process, they reach an agreement on the matters that need to be settled. If they cannot, a judge will need to decide after a trial.
Speak With an Experienced Florida Divorce Lawyer
Divorce is often complex but having trusted legal counsel can help smooth the process. The Law Offices of Travis R. Walker is proud to serve Florida clients who are thinking about or going through a divorce. Call today to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your options.
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