What to Do if Your Spouse Won’t Sign Divorce Papers

Ending a Marriage with or Without Your Spouse’s Cooperation

Divorce is a difficult decision to come to. Oftentimes, spouses could have different opinions regarding whether the relationship can be salvaged or not. If your spouse is refusing to sign divorce papers in an attempt to halt the divorce process, you need not worry. You can still pursue a divorce in California without your spouse’s signature.

The Divorce Process

The California divorce process is initiated by one spouse, deemed the petitioner. The petitioner serves their partner, the respondent, with the divorce papers. Once being served, the respondent is given 30 days to reply. However, extensions may be granted if the respondent is out of the country or serving in the military.

When a respondent replies, they are only answering the terms of the divorce that the petitioner outlined. This is their opportunity to contest matters such as child support or alimony.

While one may believe that ignoring the papers will indefinitely delay the process, doing so has the opposite effect. If a spouse does not sign the papers or offer any objections to the asset division suggestions in the documents, the case automatically proceeds as an uncontested default divorce. So, not only can a petitioner carry on with a divorce, but their efforts are made easier. By refusing to sign and attend the court hearing, one forfeits their right to negotiate the terms of the split. This means that the terms outlined by the petitioner will likely be granted.


Mediation, on the other hand, requires a level of collaboration that is likely impossible when a spouse is opposed to ending the relationship. In order to pursue mediation, a couple must agree to work together and negotiate a solution that they find to be mutually beneficial. If your spouse refuses mediation, you must go through the court’s divorce process to end your marriage.

If your relationship is nearing an end, contact Cianci Law, PC. Our attorneys will help you through the dissolution of your marriage and fight for the terms that best serve you. Call us at (916) 797-1575 to get started.

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