Can I Get A Divorce Without My Spouse Knowing?
The answer is maybe. Usually, your spouse has to know. Especially if you know where they are living because you have to have them served with process or they need to sign an acceptance of service. The general rule is that your spouse needs to know. Don’t lie about your divorce. Don’t try to be sneaky. If you need help, call Ascent Law for your Free Consultation.
Uncontested divorces are often less devastating to your finances and sanity than contested ones. Your divorce does not have to become a soap opera. Instead, Utah’s uncontested divorce process allows spouses to reach an agreement on their own and avoid the stress and anxiety associated with attending a trial before a judge. The uncontested process can be relatively quick, and certainly less expensive than taking a divorce to trial.
In the past, both spouses had to agree to a divorce in some circumstances. This could delay a divorce or make it complicated. Some people still believe that this is the case. However, you can get a divorce without the consent of your spouse in every state. Contrary to the myth, one spouse’s lack of consent does not normally delay or complicate a divorce.
Speak with a family law attorney in your state: Even though it is a myth that one spouse can unnecessarily delay or complicate a divorce, obtaining a divorce, with or without your spouse’s consent, can be difficult process when children or significant property are involved. Procedures are different in every state and often subject to local court rules.
File for a no fault divorce: In this type of divorce, you are acknowledging that neither party is responsible for the dissolution of the marriage. In some states, you can still file for a fault divorce and there may be legal advantages to doing so. However, filing for a divorce based on fault allows the non-consenting spouse to contest the grounds for divorce.
Serve your spouse with the divorce papers according to the rules for service of process in your state: Usually, you can serve your spouse by certified mail, officer’s service or a registered process server. Contrary to movies and television, your spouse cannot unnecessarily delay the divorce by avoiding service. The officer can serve your spouse at work, home or anywhere else your spouse can be found. Service can be left with any other responsible adult, excluding yourself, at your spouse’s residence. Also contrary to movies and television, in most states your spouse cannot avoid service by refusing the documents when presented with them. If your spouse refuses the documents when presented with them by a officer, your spouse is considered served. If your spouse cannot be found, the court may find that service by publication in a newspaper of general readership is sufficient.
Wait for your spouse to either answer the petition for divorce or for the statutory time-period for an answer to expire. If your spouse does answer the petition and states that he does not want a divorce, it doesn’t matter. You have a legal right to a divorce. In a no fault divorce, only one party needs to believe that the parties have irreconcilable differences for a court to grant a divorce. If your spouse does not file an answer, the court can grant you a default judgment including granting your property and custody requests as long as they are reasonable.
Follow the proceedings in your jurisdiction regarding division of assets, spousal support and custody determination. Some courts require the parties to attend settlement conferences or mediation. The procedure is different in every state and in different court rooms within a state. If you and your spouse cannot agree, the court will schedule a trial. If your spouse refuses to cooperate, judges do not generally allow one party to delay a divorce. The judge can often grant a divorce before other matters are decided and finalize the other matters at a later date. The judge can hold a non-cooperative party in contempt of court for refusing to attend court-ordered events. The judge can also schedule a trial at which a non-cooperative party’s position is likely to be looked upon less favorably. If your case goes to a trial, hire an attorney to represent you. You can represent yourself in court, however, you will be held to the same standards of evidence and procedure as an attorney.
Ask the court to grant your divorce. This usually requires a hearing after a statutory waiting period. The procedure for getting a hearing is different in every state. However, most courts will schedule a hearing at the appropriate time without a formal request from the parties. If the court schedules a hearing, the court will notify you in writing of the date and time.
What You Should Do If Your Spouse Refuses to Sign Divorce Papers
• Determine the Proper Grounds for Divorce: At this point, every state has an option for a no-fault divorce. It may go by different names in different states, but you are not forced to prove fault to obtain a divorce anywhere. However, there are situations in which you may choose to file for divorce based on fault in hopes of obtaining some benefit
• If your spouse was properly served the divorce papers, filed an uncontested response in court, and then refused to sign the final divorce papers, talk with an attorney about your option to proceed with an uncontested divorce. In some jurisdictions, if the spouse did not contest the divorce or any particular issue in their response, the judge may allow you to proceed with an uncontested divorce.
• In this scenario, you and your spouse will be assigned a court date. If your spouse does not attend the court date or attends and continues to not contest the divorce, the judge may enter a divorce order based on the facts in your complaint and the response.
• You may have to move forward with a contested divorce, though. A court hearing will be set, and your spouse will be served with the court date. If they attend and openly contest the divorce or a particular issue, then each side must present testimony and evidence regarding their preferred outcome. The judge will use the evidence to make decisions related to the divorce, such as the division of assets and debts, retirement, alimony, and child custody and visitation. Did Your Spouse Fail to respond to the Divorce Complaint, you may have had trouble with your spouse right from the start. Despite properly filing for divorce and serving those with the divorce papers, your spouse may have not responded in time. That is, they failed to file a written response with the court. In this situation, your attorney may file a motion for default judgment.
• Do Not Put Your Divorce On Hold: You may think that your spouse’s lack of consent or cooperation will delay your divorce. This is not necessarily true. The way in which your spouse can delay the final divorce order is by actively participating in the proceedings and arguing about each underlying issue. A contentious divorce can take months or years to finalize. However, if your spouse chooses to not participate, then this could lead to a speedier resolution. You may have to fulfill a statutory waiting period to obtain a divorce, such as a one-year separation. However, there is no reason to pause your divorce or wait excessive periods of time for your spouse to sign divorce papers.
Most people that file for divorce without a spouse’s consent do so because of one of the following issues:
• The spouse’s whereabouts are unknown
• They are afraid for their safety
• They no longer communicate with their spouse
• They don’t want to discuss the divorce and want things to move quickly
With these situations in mind, it’s easy to see why someone might seek divorce without their spouse’s consent.
Once you have contacted a divorce lawyer, the process will be as follows:
• You will file for a no-fault divorce.
• Your soon-to-be ex-spouse will be served a petition for divorce, a summons, and other paperwork which, again, they cannot refuse.
• After the papers have been served, your spouse will have 30 days to answer the complaint. If they don’t respond, your case will move into default judgment. If your divorce goes into default judgment, you will have to opportunity to submit your custody and property division requests. As long as they are reasonable, they may be granted. Your spouse will have no recourse later since they did not respond in the allotted time frame.
• Whether your spouse has answered the agreement or not, your case will then go into a waiting period while you work on your separation agreement and await your court hearing date.
• At your hearing date, if you have reached a settlement of the judge deems fair, your divorce will be granted. If the judge does not deem your settlement equitable or your divorce is contested, hearings will continue until these issues are resolved.
Preparing Divorce Forms
The following documents must be filed with your divorce paperwork:
• Civil Coversheet
• Petition for Divorce
• Vital Statistics Form/Certificate of Dissolution
• Acceptance of Service
• Affidavit of Jurisdiction and Grounds
• Military Service Declaration and Order
• Findings of Facts and Conclusions of Law
• Decree of Divorce
If you and your spouse have children together under the age of 18, then the following forms must be filed as well:
• Child Support Worksheet
• Affidavit of Income and Compliance with Child Support Guidelines
• Financial Declarations, and
• Child Support Locator.
The required paperwork to complete a divorce in Utah may vary in your particular county, and thus, forms in addition to those listed above may be required to complete your divorce. Check with your local court clerk for more information and to determine whether you need to file additional forms. It’s always best to call a family law attorney and speak with them rather than to do it yourself.
Completing Your Divorce
Utah has a mandatory 90-day waiting period to complete a divorce. Under extraordinary circumstances, the 90-day waiting period may be waived. However, before a divorce will be granted to parents of minor children, both spouses must complete the Divorce Education Course. It does not require that you attend a court hearing before a judge will finalize your uncontested divorce. Instead, if all your paperwork is filed correctly and the judge finds that your agreement is reasonable and/or in the best interests of your children, then the judge will sign the Findings and Decree of Divorce. Note that the date the judge signs your Decree, is when your divorce becomes final.
Reasons People Get Divorced
• Getting in for the wrong reasons: Marrying for money, we’ve all heard that that is a ticket to a quick divorce.
• Lack of individual identity: A codependent relationship is not healthy when you don’t have your own interests or the opportunity to express yourself outside of couple doom; you become “couple dumb.”If you are not comfortable doing things without your partner, or you don’t know what kind of music, movies, or food you used to like, you are likely in deep and you probably feel like you are drowning and don’t know why.
• Becoming lost in the roles: Just as many couples “forget” their single friends and single ways when they get married, when you add children into the mix, most parents soon neglect or completely forget that they are a couple. As children grow and need less attention, many husbands and wives find that they have grown apart and they can’t remember why they ever got married in the first place because they no longer have anything in common.
• Not having a shared vision of success: “Everything changed when we got married!” He drives you crazy because you’re a saver and he’s a spender. Your idea of a weekend getaway is a cozy cottage in the woods; your partner wants to the hit the town and catches a game. He thinks it’s your job to cook and clean, but you disagree.
• The intimacy disappears: Somewhere in a marriage there is a subtle change in the intimacy department. One person has an off day, there is a misunderstanding or someone doesn’t feel well. Then there’s the idea that he isn’t as romantic or she isn’t as sexual. Whoever is the one with the subtle change can trigger a downward spiral in the intimacy department. Men generally need sexual receptivity to feel romantic and women generally need romance to be sexual receptive. As long as both people are getting what they need, they willingly provide what the other person wants. However, when there is a lessening on either’s part that can trigger a pulling back in the other. If gone unnoticed and unchecked, before the couple realizes, they are seriously intimately estranged and wonder what happened. This can lead to divorce as couples begin to feel unloved and unappreciated.
• Unmet expectations: Somewhere written into a human’s genetic code lie the instruction that when a person isn’t happy, he or she is supposed to force his/her significant to make the changes required to make the unhappy person happy again. This usually takes the form of complaining, blaming, criticizing, nagging, threatening, punishing and/or bribing. When one or both people in the marriage are attempting to coerce each other into doing things they don’t want to do for their partner’s happiness, it is a recipe for disaster. When you are unhappy in a relationship, it’s okay to ask for the change you want. But, if your partner doesn’t oblige you, then you become responsible for your own happiness.
• Finances: It’s not usually the lack of finances that causes the divorce, but the lack of compatibility in the financial arena. Opposites can attract but when two people are opposites in the financial department, divorce often ensues. Imagine the conflict if one is a saver and one is a spender. One is focused on the future while the other believes in living for today. One has no problem buying on credit, while the other believes in saving up for what one wants.
Over time, this conflict can reach such heights that divorce seems to be the only logical conclusion.
• Being out of touch literally: I’m talking about physical contact. Of course, sex is great, but you also need to supplement it with little hello and goodbye kisses, impromptu hugs and simply holding hands. Couples who don’t maintain an intimate connection through both sexual and non-sexual actions are destined to become virtual strangers.
• Different priorities and interests: Having shared interests and exploring them together is essential for a successful marriage. Of course, having “more time” is important as well, but unless you can find common passions and look for ways to experience them together, you’ll inevitably grow farther and farther apart.
• Inability to resolve conflicts: Every couple has disagreements. The key is to develop ground rules so that each partner feels respected and heard. Sometimes it takes a third party “referee” to help define those rules and teach us to move through the charged emotions so resentments don’t linger.
Divorce Lawyer Free Consultation
When you need legal help for a divorce in Utah, please call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506 for your Free Consultation. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506