Divorce remains a part of life for many people. According to data from the Washington State Department of Health, 21,477 married couples filed for divorce in the state in 2020 alone. The divorce process itself can be stressful and confusing. Most people want to get through it as painlessly as possible—but some people are stuck dealing with an uncooperative partner.
You may be wondering: Can I still get divorced if my spouse will not sign the papers? The short answer is that you can get divorced anyway. While the divorce process is smoother if both parties sign the parties, one spouse cannot block a divorce. In this article, our Spokane divorce attorney explains what happens if one spouse refuses to sign the divorce papers in Washington State.
You Can File a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage Without Your Spouse
In Washington State, a couple can file joint divorce papers. When an option, this is generally the most efficient way to end a marriage. A divorcing couple can agree to an uncontested divorce settlement and they can both sign the papers so that the process can move forward.
That being said, you do not need your spouse’s signature to initiate the divorce process in Washington. One spouse can file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage by themselves. By doing so, you are starting the legal process of divorce.
When a Person Files Alone, Divorce Papers Must Be Served on their Spouse
When you file divorce papers by yourself, your spouse has the right to notice. Put another way, your divorce papers must be “served” on your spouse. As a general rule, it is best to work with a professional process server when delivering official divorce papers (legal notice) to an uncooperative spouse. To be clear, the divorce process cannot start to move forward until divorce papers have been properly served on the spouse that refuses to sign and he/she has been given adequate time to review and respond.
An Uncooperative Spouse Cannot Dodge a Divorce: Default Judgment
What happens if your spouse simply never responds to the divorce papers? In Washington, the answer is that you can divorce anyway. Washington is a no-fault divorce state. Although an uncooperative spouse can slow down the divorce process and make things more frustrating, he or she cannot stop a divorce by refusing to sign the paperwork. Once a divorce petition has been filed, papers have been properly served, and adequate time has been given for a response, the court can move forward with a default judgment.
Schedule a Confidential Consultation With a Divorce Lawyer in Spokane
At Hodgson Law Office, our Spokane divorce lawyers provide reliable advocacy across the full range of family law cases. If you have any questions about a spouse’s refusal to sign divorce papers, we are here to help. Give us a call now or contact us online for a strictly private consultation. Our law firm provides family law representation throughout Eastern Washington, including in Spokane, Spokane Valley, Town and Country, Medical Lake, Millwood, Rockford, and Spangle.