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Ask Dave Kennett Your Own Question
Dave Kennett
Dave Kennett, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 27689
Experience:  25 years experience as practicing attorney
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What happens if I refuse to sign divorce papers I do not want

Customer Question

What happens if I refuse to sign divorce papers? I do not want a divorce and know that really doesn't matter to my husband or the courts. But, if I can't bring myself to sign the papers what will happen next?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Dave Kennett replied 5 years ago.
-Could you explain your situation a little more?
Are there legal grounds for divorce or is your husband asking that you simply agree to one?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
My husband filed for divorce last November. He does not have legal grounds for divorce, I have them but do not want the divorce. I employed a lawyer after I got served with divorce papers and we are at a point of going to trial next month because we are not agreeing on the debt settlement. I can see us eventually coming to some sort of agreement on the debt (either bankruptcy or my husband acknowledges and will participate in the repayment of significant personal debt to my family). That being the case, unless he changes his mind, I can see that there will be divorce papers to sign one day. If I don't sign them, what happens. Will I be held in contempt or will a default judgement be filed against me? Or what?
Expert:  Dave Kennett replied 5 years ago.

Dear JACUSTOMER - You don't have to sign anything you don't want to sign however if the court rules that your husband has grounds for divorce then the court can order the divorce whether you sign or not. The debt issue is different from the issue of the divorce itself so if you are going to contest the divorce there's no point in agreeing on a settlement until you know if the divorce is going to go through.

From a practical standpoint, if you are living separate and apart there will come a time when that in itself will be grounds for divorce so if your husband wants a divorce he will be able to get one at some time in the future if not now.

It all depends on how much you want to spend to fight all of this and that is your decision. But you have no duty to sign anything that you do not want to sign.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
If I don't sign the paperwork, will the proceedings just default to going forward and a judge or the courts will grant the divorce. In other words, does my signing the papers or not signing the papers even matter? It would at least make me feel better to never have to sign paperwork that breaks the covenant of the marriage that was made 31 years ago.

Expert:  Dave Kennett replied 5 years ago.
Yes the case would have to move forward as a contested divorce. All issues will have to be contested at trial and the judge will make the decision.
Dave Kennett and 3 other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
So if we go before the judge on July 1 (assuming we haven't agreed to the debt settlement) at the trial the judge will decide what? On the terms of settlement and then will grant the divorce on that day?
Expert:  Dave Kennett replied 5 years ago.
I don't see how the judge could grant a divorce if you haven't agreed or signed the paperwork. You said you had a lawyer and if you do not intend to sign the paperwork I would strongly suggest that you inform your attorney so that he or she is not embarrassed when you appear in court and say you do not agree to the divorce. Contesting a divorce on the basis of grounds is relatively rare and most attorneys and judges assume there will be no argument over that issue as most problems occur in the area of finances and child issues.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for your help.
Expert:  Dave Kennett replied 5 years ago.
No problem and thanks for sing our service - Dave

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