What Do I Do When My Spouse Won’t Sign Divorce Papers?
In any divorce, things can essentially take two differing paths towards ultimate conclusion. Either the parties will agree on each and every applicable issue, whether division of property, custody, child support, or alimony, or they will not.
If the parties do agree on the necessary issues, it’s not uncommon for them to also work together to draft and sign the paperwork needed to amicably resolve their Colorado divorce case. In these instances, despite perhaps a ripple or two, things work out.
The other route a divorce case can take is when one or more of the issues to be resolved becomes contested. You might agree on alimony, but not child custody. In those cases, a family law judge will ultimately have to make decisions. This will generally take place at a formal court hearing. In those cases there is often minimal cooperation between the parties.
Going to the specific question posed, we often get calls from potential divorce or custody clients who start out with a sense of bewilderment that their spouses are not willing to just sign off on papers. When asked this question, our attorneys first ascertain what specific papers the caller is wanting the spouse to sign. It is the divorce petition or the separation agreement?
Either way, the bottom line is that your spouse is not required to sign any divorce paperwork and is not required to agree on any issues. Though you may desire to work things out easily, and maybe with out attorneys, does not mean your spouse feels the same way. Furthermore, even if both parties agree that a divorce is needed, they are not mandated to agree upon everything. One person’s idea of what is legally fair may be completely different from the others.
So, where do you go from here? The first step is to get a realistic assessment of where you stand, both procedurally and substantively. This will generally take consulting with a Denver family law attorney or firm. Whether you’re just looking for advice or input on how to do things on your own, or wanting to explore formal representation, an attorney can provide valuable insights and knowledge on what you need to do.
From there, the first step will be to file the divorce case, which is initiated with the filing of a petition and divorce summons. Your spouse will then need to be served with the initiating papers. From there, the court, regardless of which county, will give guidance on how to proceed, normally via issuance of a case management order, which will lay out expectations and procedures.
If your spouse is served and takes part, though in a contested fashion, you are at least making progress towards ultimately wrapping up your case. If your spouse is served and just ignores things, a court will ultimately enter the divorce via default and will likely grant you the relief you are requesting on the various issues, so long as they are not outlandish and generally comport with statute.
At Plog & Stein, our Denver divorce attorneys firmly believe that amicable resolution is preferable to letting a judge (a stranger) dictate the fate of your future finances or child issues. Realistically, not all cases end that way and people should not be too shocked that their spouses are not willing to cooperate or proceed collectively.