What Happens If You Don’t Sign The Divorce Papers?

What Happens If You Don’t Sign The Divorce Papers? : Divorce is an ugly process that no married couple ever wants to imagine. But sometimes, due to various reasons, it is unavoidable. Indeed, in some cases, it may be the best option. Imagine living with an abusive partner who controls your every move.

Or, living in a house dominated by arguments and put-downs. Irreconcilable differences can make the institution of marriage untenable. Parting of ways provides a solution and a chance to start life afresh.

Statistics around divorce are quite sad to look at. In the United States, about 4 to 5 million people get married every year. Yet 42% to 53% will end up seeking a divorce lawyer’s services to help dissolve the marriage. Some reasons include infidelity, lots of intimacy, financial problems, and domestic abuse.

Other times the couples will simply grow apart and can no longer sustain the facade of a relationship. The Maldives has the highest divorce rates as per 2020-2021 statistics. Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, and Belgium follow closely behind. While the United States takes the number 13 position in a tie with Lithuania.

In the dissolution of marriage, couples must sign divorce papers. But, what happens in the case that one of them doesn’t?

The Impact of Not Signing Divorce Papers

You have been going through a rocky period in your marriage. But, there is still that part of you that believes you can find a way to coexist. At no point does divorce cross your mind. Suddenly, out of nowhere, your partner serves you with divorce papers.

The shock and outrage you experience are hard to explain. And the one thing you are sure about is that you’re not ready to give up yet. So, you decide to ignore signing the papers. That way, you will still have a marriage, or so you believe.

Well, the sad reality is that is not the case. If you speak to divorce attorneys in Orange County, your refusal to sign the documents does not mean the divorce will not proceed. Instead, what you’re doing is ruining any chances you have at negotiating a settlement. You are handing over the reins to your spouse on critical matters like child custody, property division, and spousal support.

Understanding the Divorce Process

To better understand what we are talking about, it is important to know how divorces proceed. There are two parties to a divorce proceeding.

  • The petitioner is the one who files for the separation
  • The respondent is the one who gets the divorce papers

In an uncontested divorce, the respondent will receive the papers, sign them, and proceed with the divorce. But, refusing to sign the documents turns the divorce into a contested one. And it can get pretty ugly sometimes. What could have been over in a relatively short time, can drag on for quite a long period.

As any court server knows, serving court documents can be tough. They must ensure they give the papers to the respondent. No one can receive the documents on your behalf.

Some people will do all they can to evade the process server. If they are successful at the evasion tactics, the court can use alternate methods, including certified mail or notices in legal newspapers. After this, the divorce proceedings will continue.

The court gives the respondent anywhere from 20-30 days to respond. Failure to do so leaves the judge no option but to declare a default judgment. The petitioner must file an affidavit to prove they served you with the divorce petition. The same applies to proof that you did not respond.

Please note default judgments tend to favor the petitioner. They typically get everything they ask for, including custody, support, and maintenance. As the respondent, you can get the judge to vacate the default ruling if you give valid reasons for not appearing in court or responding to the summons.

The main challenge with default judgments is that the respondent has some time to contest them. It could delay the process if they decide to present the case later. Talk to your divorce attorney before deciding if this is the best route.

Reneging on Marital Settlement Agreements

In uncontested or amicable divorces, the couple comes to a mutually beneficial settlement. You agree on the divorce terms, including custody sharing and support. But, it is not uncommon for one party to renege at the settlement signing stage. They refuse to sign the final stipulation, which is a binding contract.

It can be frustrating because reaching the final agreement can take time. Both parties have legal representation from their divorce attorneys to safeguard everyone’s interests. But the end is not always as smooth as everyone would hope for.

Like in the case of refusing to sign the divorce papers, the only result will be delaying the process. The petitioner can request the court for a hearing date. The judge can then agree to finalize the divorce without your signature on the marriage termination agreement.

Can You Change a Petitioner’s Mind to Sign the Divorce Papers?

Sometimes the refusal to sign the divorce petition could just be a form of denial. Parting ways with someone you love comes with a lot of emotions. And for some people, a little time is needed to come to terms with what is happening.

We have made reference to hiring an experienced divorce lawyer. Some of the skills include negotiation and mediation. They can ask for a sit-down with the petitioner and try to resolve the issues amicably.

Professional family lawyers would rather avoid the court process altogether. Not only are they expensive, but they are time-consuming and can have mental and emotional implications for clients. After mediation, the contesting spouse can come around and sign the divorce papers.


Your refusal to sign the divorce petition does not mean you will stay married. The court can declare a default judgment in favor of the petitioner. You could end up losing everything, including custody and spousal support.

Your best option is to hire an experienced divorce attorney. They will give you the best advice on how to proceed, which would not involve refusing to sign the documents. Always have it at the back of your mind that an uncontested or amicable divorce is the best way to go about it. This is quite critical if there are children in the marriage.

Finding a peaceful resolution can allow for a healthy co-parenting environment. Focus on what is important and agree to move on peacefully.




Related Videos about What Happens If You Don’t Sign The Divorce Papers? :



What Happens If You Don’t Sign The Divorce Papers?

how long does a divorce take if one party doesn’t agree, if i am served divorce papers do i have to sign them, can you get a divorce without the other person signing the papers, what happens if you don’t sign divorce papers in texas, what happens if i don’t sign divorce papers in california, how long do i have to sign divorce papers, what happens if your spouse won’t sign divorce papers in pa, how to get a divorce if spouse refuses in mississippi,