What If My Spouse Wants a Divorce, But I Do Not?
When a marriage begins to break down, spouses may decide together to consider divorce. This mutual agreement, while not always amicable, often leads to a quicker resolution. However, what happens when one spouse wants to get divorced and the other one refuses to give up? What happens when one spouse wants to attend marriage counseling but the other one is no longer willing to stay in an unhappy marriage?
When one spouse doesn’t want a divorce, they may do everything in their power to avoid it, even down to dodging a process server. However, these tactics won’t prevent divorce from occurring because Texas is a no-fault divorce state. This means that just one spouse needs to pursue a divorce for a judge to grant a divorce in the Lone Star state.
Prior to the 1960s, this was not always the case. Seeking a divorce in Texas was difficult, because, like many other states, Texas only allowed divorce for very specific reasons. The spouse pursuing the divorce needed to allege and prove those reasons before the judge would grant the divorce.
Now, one spouse may request a divorce. As long as they’ve gone through the mandatory 60-day waiting period, a divorce can legally be finalized. However, without your spouse’s consent or cooperation, going through the divorce process might be time-consuming and costly.
How Does Divorce Occur in Texas?
In the state of Texas, a divorce occurs either via a negotiated agreement or through a trial. If your spouse refuses to participate in the Texas divorce process, you will likely end up going through a trial. After all, it is impossible to reach an agreement with someone who will not negotiate, sign paperwork or even agree to a divorce.
Many divorcing couples believe that if a Texas spouse is ignoring or refusing to participate in the divorce process, then the filing spouse will get everything they want in the divorce. This is not necessarily the truth.
Does My Spouse Have to Sign the Divorce Papers?
In a word, no, your spouse does not have to sign the divorce papers. If he or she refuses to sign, then the divorce becomes contested, rather than uncontested. This means that you will go through a longer divorce process. If children and/or property are involved, it will take even more time.
That being said, simply refusing to sign will not stop the divorce, and you can get a divorce whether your spouse agrees to sign the paperwork or not.
If your spouse refuses to even respond to a divorce petition, he or she has “defaulted.” You will file an affidavit with the court to prove the paperwork was served to your spouse and that he or she did not respond. Once this happens, the judge will determine issues like child support, alimony, and property distribution. However, it is extremely rare that a judge would give everything to one spouse simply because the other refused to respond.
A Texas Judge Will Make a “Just and Right Division”
If your spouse refused to file an answer or participate in negotiations, your attorney will proceed with a “default” divorce. A default divorce will include a short trial without your spouse, additional paperwork, and, for you, probably extra time and money.
If, for instance, you do not have all the information regarding your financial situation—and your spouse refuses to provide them, it will obviously take you much longer to gather that information, therefore, longer to get a divorce.
The judge could threaten your spouse with contempt, but it is generally better to obtain the records in alternative ways. Even if your spouse refuses to participate in the divorce process, your attorney must show the court that the division of property, child custody, child support, and alimony you are asking for is “just and right.” In other words, the division must still be equitable and right.
If any of this has made you wonder whether your spouse could divorce you without your knowledge, the answer is that it would be almost impossible. There are “fail-safes” in place, and the court will do everything in its power to ensure the other spouse is served with divorce papers.
Call Our Houston Divorce Attorneys Immediately
If you are considering a divorce, you need a lawyer on your side that you can trust. At Roger G. Jain & Associates, our Houston divorce attorneys can help you safeguard your future throughout the divorce. We know how to tackle and navigate complex family law issues in Texas, and we fight aggressively for our clients every step of the way. Call us today at 713-981-0600 or fill out our confidential contact form. We are here to help!
Roger Jain is a dedicated trial lawyer who assists his clients in the following areas of practice: civil litigation, business law, criminal defense, juvenile law, estate planning and family Law.