What to Do When a Spouse Won’t Sign Divorce Papers

What to Do When a Spouse Won’t Sign Divorce PapersAt the beginning of a divorce in Denver, exes will have to sign the initial divorce petition in order to kick off (and proceed with) their case. Here’s a look at what happens when an ex refuses to sign these divorce papers.

What Can I Do If My Ex Won’t Sign the Divorce Petition/Response?

After you file the initial divorce petition with a Denver court to get your case started, a copy of that petition will have to be served to your ex. Service should be done via a disinterested third party (who is at least 18 years old). Once a copy of the petition has been served, the ex (i.e., the respondent) will have 21 days, according to Colorado law, to file a response to the petition.

The response should detail any disputes the ex has with the requests made in the initial petition. In other words, the response provides the other partner with an opportunity to:

  • Answer the initial petition
  • Explain how (s)he wants the issue(s) of the divorce to be resolved.

If an ex does NOT sign or file the response within 21 days of being served:

  • (S)he will usually lose his or her opportunity to explain what (s)he wants in the divorce.
  • The court will typically see the case as uncontested, granting the requests the petitioner made in the initial petition (as long as those requests are reasonable).

What If My Ex Won’t Sign the Divorce Decree?

Usually, divorcing parties will only have to sign a final divorce decree associated with an uncontested divorce. In these cases, both parties:

  • Develop the divorce settlement together, putting the terms of their agreement into a divorce decree
  • Sign the decree and file it with the court.

So, if an ex refuses to sign the mutually agreed-upon divorce decree, it may be necessary to resume mediation or negotiations to uncover whether there are any remaining issues of dispute. An attorney can explain your best options at this juncture, based on the details of your situation.

In contrast, the final divorce decree associated with a contested divorce will not generally have to be signed by exes. This is because the final decree in contested cases will be issued by the court (following the trial, during which each side presents his or her arguments, evidence, etc.). As such, these decrees are court orders that do not necessarily have to be authorized or signed by divorcing parties.

Signing Divorce Papers: The Bottom Line

When it comes to signing initial divorce petitions or final divorce documents, the bottom line is that:

  • Neither party is legally required to sign any paperwork they do not want to.
  • When an ex refuses to sign divorce papers (at the start or end of a case), there are options for moving past this roadblock.
  • A lawyer at Burnham Law can provide essential support and guidance for any of the challenges that arise in divorce, including an ex’s refusal to sign divorce paperwork.

Empower Yourself with Exceptional Divorce Representation: Contact a Denver Divorce Attorney at The Burnham Law Firm

If you need answers about your divorce options – or if you are ready to move forward with extraordinary representation  in your case, it’s time to contact a Denver divorce attorney at The Burnham Law Firm. Call (303) 990-5308 or email our firm.

We are ready to discuss your circumstances, needs and objectives – and to explain your options for proceeding.

Bringing extensive experience and compassion to every case we handle, our attorneys will partner and strategize with you to develop the right plan for:

  • Protecting your rights and interests in and after divorce
  • Preparing and advancing your  case
  • Achieving your goals and helping your resolve your divorce as favorably as possible.