You know that you want a divorce in Maryland, but your spouse refuses to sign the papers to present to the court for your marriage to be officially dissolved. You might panic and wonder if you will need to remain married, though this happens more often than you might think. This could make certain aspects of your divorce more complicated, however, so you should always discuss your situation with a divorce attorney who can help.
Why Won’t They Sign the Papers?
People have different reasons for not signing divorce papers. Does your spouse want to try to salvage the marriage? If so, having an honest conversation with them about your desire to move on might help them realize that signing divorce papers to make the process simple is the best thing to do.
Other people might refuse to sign, thinking it will give them leverage in negotiations, such as if they want the house or greater custody rights. Your spouse might think that refusing to sign gives them power over you, and that you might cave and give them what they want to end the process.
If this is your situation, do not give in. Instead, speak with a divorce attorney, who will likely inform you that your spouse’s signature is not always necessary and refusing to sign should not give them an advantage. You should never give up your rights because your spouse is being difficult.
Potential Complications in Your Divorce
You can still get a divorce if your spouse will not sign any papers. However, this factor might change the process a little. For example, in Maryland, in order to get a no-fault divorce (which many people prefer), you must state one of two grounds:
- Mutual consent to the divorce
- Separation for one year
If your spouse refuses to sign anything, you will not be able to claim mutual consent. Instead, you will need to seek a no-fault divorce based on a one-year separation. This can delay the process considerably. The good news is that your spouse does not have to agree to the separation to meet this requirement. You only need to live in a separate residence and not have any sexual intimacy for one year before you file.
In addition, if your spouse is refusing to sign, they might also refuse to participate in the divorce process altogether. You can still obtain a divorce, but it will not be as simple as if the two of you cooperated.
You can still file your petition, and if your spouse fails to file a response or appear for court hearings, and you show that you have made sufficient efforts to serve divorce papers on your spouse, the judge can issue a default judgment. Your attorney can walk you through this process should the need arise.
Whether or not your spouse will sign divorce papers, the process can be full of obstacles and unexpected challenges. Always have an experienced divorce lawyer on your side from the start.