What happens if your spouse refuses to sign your divorce papers?

In Pennsylvania, the process of divorce can become significantly more complex when your spouse refuses to sign the divorce papers. You may feel stuck, unsure of how to proceed. However, rest assured that there are legal provisions in place to help you navigate this difficult situation.

It is important to understand that your spouse’s refusal to sign does not mean you are unable to get a divorce. Pennsylvania law has established processes for such cases, allowing you to move forward with your life.

No-fault divorce

In Pennsylvania, you can file for a no-fault divorce, which does not ask you to prove any wrongdoing on your spouse’s part. In a no-fault divorce, if your spouse refuses to sign the divorce papers, you have the option to wait for a two-year separation period.

After two years of living apart, the court can grant a divorce without your spouse’s agreement.

The process after the separation period

Once you have lived separately from your spouse for two years, you can file an affidavit of consent, stating that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Your spouse has the right to contest this claim. If they do, the court may ask you to take part in counseling for up to three months. However, if the issues remain unresolved after counseling, the court can proceed with the divorce.

Contested divorce cases

In some instances, your spouse might not only refuse to sign the divorce papers but also dispute the grounds of divorce or the terms of the settlement. This is a contested divorce. In these cases, the court will need to make decisions about the division of property, alimony, child custody and other matters.

Despite your spouse’s refusal to sign the divorce papers, you can still move forward with your divorce in Pennsylvania. While the process might take a little longer, Pennsylvania law ensures that one spouse cannot hold the other in a marriage against their will.


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