Divorce is a difficult and stressful event in everyone’s life. At the same time, spouses can make this process much easier if they are willing to cooperate and reach a mutually beneficial agreement. However, in legal practice, there are situations when one of the partners is trying to prevent divorce in all possible ways. For example, a spouse won’t sign the divorce papers in Texas, puts emotional pressure on the other spouse through threats, or refuses to make contact with the initiator of the divorce proceedings. Logically, this raises the question: can I get a divorce without my spouse knowing? This article provides a detailed look at various aspects of a one-sided divorce and describes the steps a person can take to officially dissolve a marriage without the involvement of the other spouse.
How Do You Get a Divorce in Texas if You Can’t Find Your Spouse?
Anyone filing for divorce should ensure they meet the state residency requirements. Under the Texas Family Code, in order to initiate a divorce, one or both spouses must have resided:
- in Texas for at least six months;
- in the county where the divorce petition is filed for at least 90 days.
The residency requirement exceptions apply in military divorce cases. For example, if a person is a permanent Texas resident and is outside the state for some time due to public service, the period of their absence is still considered as residence in Texas.
The absence of your partner may make the divorce process more difficult, but it is not a problem that will prevent you from getting a final divorce decree. If you can’t find your spouse to serve divorce papers, then, upon court approval, the service of process is replaced by legal notice in the form of publication or posting. The further procedure is simple: your future ex either responds to the notice or continues to ignore it, which is a prerequisite for you and your attorney to proceed with the divorce process.
If the petitioner manages to notify the other party of the divorce (i.e., serving a copy of the petition), but the other spouse fails to respond within the statutory period, the court may still consider the case and grant a default judgment.
Can You Get Divorce Without Your Spouse Signature in Texas?
The refusal to sign divorce paperwork is a common trick spouses use when they are unwilling to end a marriage and want to prolong the legal process. Sometimes, the other spouse mistakenly believes that their deliberate failure to sign divorce documents will affect the case. However, the divorce in Texas can be officially finalized without the other party’s direct involvement.
One of the spouses may not want to break up the marriage by refusing to sign divorce papers due to:
- The mistaken belief that a divorce can be prevented. As mentioned above, one party’s decision not to sign divorce papers can only make the divorce more complicated. However, in the end, the marriage will be terminated. If the respondent ignores the petition and does not take part in the court proceedings, there is a high chance that the final divorce decree will not meet their expectations in terms of child custody, property and debts division, etc.
- The denial of fault. It is not uncommon for one of the parties to deny the divorce. This is not surprising because it is an emotionally difficult event, and sometimes spouses do not want to admit their fault in the relationship breakup. At the same time, the spouse’s denial will not seriously affect the course of the divorce case.
- Disagreement over the terms of the divorce. The respondent may not be categorically opposed to divorce but may refuse to sign divorce documents if spouses disagree on the major divorce issues. The main goal of the second partner is to enter into divorce proceedings on favorable terms for themselves. In this case, spouses must resolve their disputes before a judge. It is also advisable to consult with an experienced family law attorney.
It is important to note that, generally, a divorce without spouse signature will be contested and definitely will not result in a mutually beneficial settlement.
What Happens if Your Spouse Won’t Sign Divorce Papers
You have 3 legal options if your spouse will not sign divorce papers:
- Default Judgment.If the respondent ignores the petition and avoids signing the divorce documents, the petitioner has the right to file a motion for a default judgment. This is enough for the judge to consider the case without a trial and issue a final divorce decree. It is worth mentioning that if you enter a default judgment, you will still need to go through the mandatory 60-day waiting period to finalize the divorce.
- Mediation. Mediation is the best option for spouses who cannot resolve divorce issues in person. This procedure involves a neutral third party, the mediator. The partners negotiate together and try to work out all the contentious points so that a joint agreement can be reached. If the process is successful, the divorce case will not proceed to the litigation stage.
- Trial. If the previous divorce options have failed, litigation is the only way for spouses to dissolve their marriage. A trial is often an expensive and time-consuming process, and parties usually try to avoid it whenever possible. However, depending on the case specifics, the trial can go quite fast and lead to an effective resolution of the disagreement between the spouses.