Can My Spouse Refuse to Sign Divorce Papers?
One of the most common myths divorce attorneys come across is the belief that a spouse must consent to a divorce for the process to move forward. Your spouse can certainly make the process more difficult, but he or she cannot prevent it from happening altogether.
What Happens If a Spouse Refuses to Sign Divorce Paper
In Oregon, if your spouse has still refused to sign or respond to divorce papers, the court will automatically rule it an uncontested divorce, which grants the divorce by default. All that is required is proof of “irreconcilable differences” – and an inability to agree on the divorce is proof enough of such differences.
Contested vs Uncontested Divorce
If your spouse refuses to sign divorce papers, your divorce is considered “contested.” This type of divorce also applies to other situations in which spouses cannot reach an agreement on one or more key issues, such as property division or child custody.
In addition to filing for divorce, you also must formally notify your spouse by serving him or her divorce papers. Following these actions, a hearing will take place to establish the reasons for contesting the divorce and for the court to resolve those issues.
From this point, spouses may begin to negotiate on a settlement, addressing all key issues, including the division of assets and debt, spousal support, and child custody. If the spouses disagree on these issues as well, the case will have to go to court, where a judge will make the necessary decisions.
By contrast, an uncontested divorce means that both parties agree to all the terms, and therefore can proceed with finalizing the divorce. Uncontested divorces do not require negotiation or trial, and are faster and cheaper.
If you have served your spouse with a divorce petition for an uncontested divorce but he/she has not signed the final papers, the judge may file a default hearing and the judge may grant the orders as stated in the petition, as long as they are reasonable.
Divorce Can Be Granted by Default
If, even after the hearing, the spouse refuses to appear in court and all attempts at negotiating have failed, the filing spouse has the right to request a “default” divorce. The court will uphold the divorce request and the original terms, including division of property, child support, and custodial arrangements listed in the divorce papers.
For more information on this process, check out our section on “The Divorce Process” in our Complete Guide to Divorce in Oregon online resource.
The Portland Divorce Attorneys at McKinley Irvin
At McKinley Irvin, our divorce attorneys are highly accomplished and compassionate legal advocates. Throughout the years, our skilled legal team has helped numerous clients identify their goals and protect their interests throughout the divorce process.Schedule a meeting with a Portland divorce and family law attorney today. Call us at (503) 395-0244.