General Question

keobooks's avatar

Is there any way to legally divorce someone yourself if your estranged spouse refuses to sign the papers?

Asked by keobooks (14276points) January 23rd, 2014

This is awful. A relative of mine agreed to divorce his wife over a YEAR ago. He moved out, but he refuses to sign the divorce papers. I feel so sorry for his wife. She wants to get on with her life, but she can’t because he won’t finish things up. He won’t even call a lawyer.

Is there ANYTHING she can do to get out of this by herself?

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13 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

What does her lawyer say?

I have the feeling that the authoritative answer will be different depending on what state she lives in.

keobooks's avatar

I kind of don’t know if I should talk to her about it. I know it because another relative told me. I have no idea what’s going on. Maybe I should just go through with it. The relative is my dad and I feel some responsibility because I know my mom went through something very similar with him. My mom ended up calling the church that they both went to and the minister and two other men came to the house and put pressure on him.

Seek's avatar


I don’t know the details, but I understand that my mother was able to divorce my father through the courts without his signature. I’m sure their lawyer will know how to handle the situation.

zenvelo's avatar

Yes, she just needs to go to the Family Law Court and file a request for the judge to declare the divorce final. If she can show she has covered all the bases, and arrived at a fair disposition of community property, then the judge will most likely declare the divorce final right away, or set an effective date for when the marriage is over.

Judges don’t take kindly to people who don’t sign on something that has been fairly agreed to.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

Divorce can sometimes be finalized by filing, then instead of sending the papers through the mail, post an ad in the paper. If no-one comes forward to contest, the judge will sign off on it I. Don’t know how many or which states that works in.

Smitha's avatar

I don’t know the laws in your state but normally you can ask her attorney to file a petition for divorce. Once the petition is filed, her husband will have 30 days to respond to the filing. If he refuses to sign, it’s clearly no longer uncontested and the court will grant her a default divorce.
In some other states if husband does not respond to the initial filing of the divorce a court date will be set and if he does not show up for the court date a judge will grant a divorce based on the information in your original petition for divorce.

gailcalled's avatar

Is your dad the bad guy here and your step-mother the injured party? Putting yourself in the mix might be awkward depending on your relationship with them both. If, however, you are very fond of your step-mother and feel you can offer her useful advice, then why not do it?

keobooks's avatar

I have a weird relationship with my dad. I know he’s a big jerk—but he’s my dad and I love him. My step mother (that sounds weird to me because they got married when I was in my 30s so he wasn’t much of a mother) is a really nice woman, but I think she gets off on being a victim. I care for her as well.

I should probably stay out of it, but it’s driving me crazy that my dad is being a jerk right now and I have to pretend I don’t know it.

gailcalled's avatar

Why do you have to pretend? Once you know, you know. Letting external events drive you crazy is very bad for your central nervous system, if nothing else.

VS's avatar

Depending on where they live, if they have been separated for a year (living at different addresses), her attorney can file for her and her husband/your dad doesn’t have to sign anything. A court date will be scheduled for a judge to hear the case, and whether he shows up or not is irrelevant to the matter at hand. A judge will listen to what is said, and sign off and once the ink is dry and the papers are clocked at the courthouse, the divorce becomes final. He will be mailed the final divorce decree to his last known address and if he gets it, he gets it, and if he doesn’t, there is not much the Court can do beyond that point.
If people had to cooperate in order for their spouse to obtain a divorce, I imagine the divorce rate would be much lower.

keobooks's avatar

So when she cries that she can’t get a divorce, that’s not really true at all. She’s not doing her part to get it over with. Sure my dad is being a jerk but she’s got a part in it too. If she really wanted to, she could likely just do it on her own.

gailcalled's avatar

Why not do some research about the pertinant facts in her particular state? If you present her with accurate information, that is not an unreasonable way of helping the process along.

See @Smitha‘s link above. “If you have filed for divorce and are dealing with an uncooperative spouse, you should speak with an experienced divorce attorney to discuss the possibility of pursuing a default case.”

gailcalled's avatar


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