What to Do If Your Spouse Won’t Sign the Divorce Papers in California

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After years of marriage, you realize that despite your best efforts, it’s time to end this chapter of your life and file for divorce. Your spouse agreed at first but now says they will refuse to sign the divorce papers. They won’t budge no matter what you say or how hard you push them.

At Seabrook Law Offices, we know that divorce is one of the most stressful times in a person’s life. With all the challenges and heartache, you don’t need the additional anxiety of wondering if your spouse can hold up the divorce because they refuse to sign the divorce papers. To help put your mind at ease, a member of our divorce attorney team shares what you need to know. Call (408) 560-4487 to schedule your consultation. We are here to help.

California Is a No-Fault Divorce State

The first thing to understand is that California is a no-fault divorce state, meaning you don’t have to prove that your spouse did something wrong to receive a divorce decree. Instead, you can file for divorce due to irreconcilable differences. You can get a divorce even if your spouse doesn’t want one.

My Spouse Was Served the Divorce Papers but Didn’t Respond

After service of the divorce papers, your spouse has 30 calendar days to respond. If your spouse did not respond within this timeframe, and you have no written agreement, this is considered a “true default.” With a true default, your spouse will have forfeited their right to participate in the divorce proceedings, and you can request a default divorce judgment.

You must submit a set of final forms to the Court to finish your divorce as indicated on the Judgment Checklist. These forms let the Court know you met the required steps to get a default and want your divorce finalized. They also say what orders about child custody and child support, spousal support, or attorney’s fees you want the Judge to make and how you want to divide any community property. After you and your divorce attorney have prepared and reviewed all required forms, they will be presented to the Judge.

The Judge may set a court date if you ask for spousal support or something complicated. This is called a default hearing. Your divorce attorney will attend the hearing with you. If the Court determines everything is in order, the Judge can sign the Judgment of Dissolution granting your desired terms without your spouse’s participation.

When Is My Divorce Final?

Default doesn’t mean your divorce is granted right away. Under Section 2339(a) of the California Family Code, “no judgment of dissolution is final for the purpose of terminating the marriage relationship of the parties until six months have expired from the date of service of a copy of summons and petition or the date of appearance of the respondent, whichever occurs first.” In California, this half a year-long “cooling off period” is mandatory in all divorces.

Although the court clerk must record the Judgment of Dissolution and stamp the documents, you are divorced on the date the Judge signs the document, not when the clerk enters it into the record. You and your spouse will each receive a copy of the Notice of Entry of Judgment informing you that the divorce has been finalized.

Is a Default Divorce the Same as an Uncontested Divorce?

Once a spouse defaults and there is no written agreement, they lose the right to contest the divorce or decide how assets will be divided.

On the other hand, an uncontested divorce is when both spouses agree on all aspects of the divorce, including the division of assets, custody arrangements, and spousal support. Once an agreement has been reached, the spouses can file for an uncontested divorce. If everything is agreed upon, the divorce can be finalized relatively quickly. However, if there are still some contested issues, the couple must work together to reach a resolution or go to trial.

Are There Disadvantages to a Default Divorce?

Though a default divorce can be quicker and allow you to avoid a lengthy and costly court battle, there are disadvantages to consider before opting for this type of divorce. One downside is that you may not get everything you want in the divorce settlement if your spouse doesn’t participate. For example, if you want sole custody of your children but your spouse doesn’t respond to the divorce petition, the Court may grant joint custody instead.

Another potential disadvantage is that your ex-spouse may later contest the divorce settlement. Even though the Court has granted a default divorce, your ex-spouse may be able to fight the default and get a second chance to respond to the case. There are a few reasons a case might default when it shouldn’t, and your ex-spouse may be able to challenge the default or appeal the Judge’s decision.

Contact Seabrook Law Offices If Your Spouse Won’t Sign the Divorce Papers

As you are going through your divorce, you need a legal team you can rely on to alleviate anxiety related to dealing with a spouse who refuses to sign the divorce papers. If you’re searching online for “divorce lawyers near me,” look no further. At Seabrook Law Offices, our dedicated, experienced divorce attorneys and legal team provide compassionate service during your time of need.

Our attorneys will meet with you to understand your specific situation. Dealing with a spouse who won’t sign divorce papers can be complicated. You don’t need to navigate these complex waters alone. Trust the experienced team of divorce lawyers at Seabrook Law Offices. We can also assist you with mediation, child support and custody, and spousal support. Call us at (408) 560-4487 or complete our online form. We are here to help.

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Copyright © 2022. Seabrook Law Offices. All rights reserved.

The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

Seabrook Law Offices
6840 Via Del Oro, Ste. 265
San Jose, CA 95119
(408) 560-4487

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