Ending a marriage can be frustrating and stressful. Having a spouse who refuses to sign the divorce papers only makes matters worse, leaving the divorce process to drag on longer than necessary.

If your spouse does not sign the divorce papers, there are options to pursue depending on where the divorce proceedings are delayed. While an obstinate spouse may add time to the divorce process, they cannot block the process entirely.

Filing and Serving the Divorce Papers

Upon filing a divorce petition with the court, the filing spouse must ensure the other spouse receives the corresponding summons and petition.

Any of the following people may serve the divorce papers if the filing spouse is uncomfortable doing so:

  • A friend or family member who is over the age of 18 but not a child of the marriage
  • A process server
  • A sheriff

A proof of service must be signed and filed with the court stating that the non-filing spouse received the divorce papers. If the spouse cannot be found, there are ways to provide notice of a divorce proceeding through publication.

Is the Divorce Uncontested?

A California divorce can be uncontested or contested. Once a divorce petition is filed, the other spouse typically has thirty days to file a response with the court. A failure to respond can result in a default judgment or uncontested divorce.

California is a no-fault divorce state, meaning neither spouse is required to prove grounds for divorce. Only one spouse must state that there are irreconcilable differences in the marriage. Therefore, it is possible for the court to grant a divorce without input from both spouses.

What Happens When a Default Divorce is Granted?

When a default divorce is granted, the court generally enters orders according to the petitioning spouse’s requests. Therefore if the other spouse disagrees with the divorce paperwork as it is filed, they need to file a response and contest the wishes of their spouse.

Is the Divorce Contested?

If the other spouse files a response within the thirty-day period, the divorce is contested. There will be an opportunity to reach a settlement regarding all divorce issues such as asset and debt division, child custody and visitation, alimony, and child support.

If the spouses cannot reach an agreement, a trial date is set. Should a spouse refuse to move forward or respond, the court has the power to move forward and grant a default divorce in the absence of that spouse.

California’s Mandatory Waiting Period

It is important to note that no divorce will be finalized by the California court until six months after the filing date.

An Experienced California Attorney Can Help

If you need help moving forward with your divorce, call Fernandez & Karney. Our skilled divorce attorneys in Los Angeles can assist you through any stage of divorce, from contemplation to trial.

Do not let your spouse dictate your timeline. Protect your rights and your peace of mind. Schedule your confidential consultation with a divorce professional at Fernandez & Karney today. Our family law attorneys in Los Angeles can help with any type of family law matter in California.