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What If Your Spouse Refuses to Sign Divorce Papers?

In most cases, when a couple divorces, both parties are in agreement that it's the right choice (even if that's all they agree on). However, there are some cases where one party wants to move on and the other party doesn't.

The party that doesn't want a divorce may try to slow or stop proceedings by refusing to sign the divorce papers or ignore that they were served. This does not stop the process, and it's important to know that you do have a path forward to divorce. Our divorce attorneys in Raleigh are sharing your options when your spouse won't sign divorce papers.

The Divorce Process in North Carolina

First, it's important to know how the divorce process works so you understand your options. In North Carolina, a couple must live separately for a full year with no intention to reconcile and one or both parties must be a resident of the state for six months.

During this time, you can find the right attorney to represent you and determine what your goals are for the terms of the divorce, including custody and child support. It's also important to protect your interests during the separation period, such as by freezing any assets, canceling credit cards, or dividing up bank accounts.

After the one year separation period has ended, you (the plaintiff) can file a Complaint for Divorce that states the facts of your case and your request for a divorce and file them with the county clerk in the county you or your spouse live in. Your spouse (the defendant) is served with the complaint, letting them know that you have filed for divorce. Once served, a hearing is scheduled at least 30 days after the date the defendant was served.

If this was an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse, with the help of your attorneys or a mediator, would draw up the terms of your divorce, including child custody, property division, and child support. These would be submitted to the judge, who would sign them along with the judgment for absolute divorce. In a contested divorce, where both parties agree to divorce but can't agree on the terms, the judge would set the terms.

When Your Spouse Refuses to Sign Divorce Papers

If your spouse is served with divorce papers and chooses to ignore them or refuses to sign them, the next step is slightly different than what you would do in an uncontested divorce. After 30 days, you would file for a Motion for Entry of Default - a default divorce. From there, you and your attorney would complete any paperwork, as well as draft your requests for custody, child support, and how you wish for property to be divided. Copies will be sent to your former spouse, and the rest will be submitted to the county clerk.

In a default divorce, the plaintiff is more likely to have most, if not all, of the requests granted simply because the defendant isn't there to refute claims or defend themselves.

Why You Need a Divorce Lawyer When Your Spouse Refuses to Sign

While a default divorce may seem fairly easy, on par with an uncontested divorce, you still need an experienced divorce attorney to assist you. Not only will they ensure that all the paperwork is filled out correctly and file it on your behalf, they can also help draft the terms of your divorce. Divorce attorneys will strive to get you the most favorable terms while also making the process as simple and stress free as possible.

Schedule a Consultation with Our Divorce Attorneys in Raleigh

If you are considering getting a divorce, in the separation stage, or even if you've filed papers, and your spouse won't agree to the divorce, we can help. We'll fight on your behalf and strive to get you the most favorable settlement Call (919) 301-8843 or complete the online contact form below to schedule a consultation with our firm today.

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