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Can I Refuse to Sign Divorce Papers?

Many people believe that they can stop the divorce process if they refuse to sign the paperwork, but in California that is not the case. In reality, the only thing that will happen if one spouse refuses to sign the divorce papers is that their own legal rights in the proceedings will be limited. If you are unsure of how to proceed in a divorce after being served paperwork, you should not simply refuse to sign. Call or contact a local divorce attorney in your area to go over the documents and get a better understanding of what a divorce petition entails.

Can I Refuse to Divorce My Spouse?

In California, one spouse cannot legally refuse the divorce petition of the other spouse. California is a no-fault state for divorce, which means that one spouse does not have to prove grounds or get the signature of the other spouse in order to proceed with the filing. Whether a spouse accidentally forgets to sign the paperwork or outright refuses does not matter or stop the divorce petition from continuing through the court system. Unfortunately, all it will do is limit the non-signing spouse’s rights when it comes to decisions of property distribution, spousal support, child support, child custody, visitation rights, and more. These decisions will have a significant and lasting impact on that spouse’s life, so it is important to instead sign the paperwork after talking to a skilled California divorce attorney.

What do I do if My Spouse Refuses to Sign the Paperwork?

In order to begin the divorce process, one spouse must serve the other spouse with the divorce petition. The petition includes the paperwork for the divorce and a summons for when the respondent spouse must appear in court to discuss the divorce terms. The respondent spouse has 30 days from receiving the divorce petition to file a response to issues such as marital property, child custody, and more. If the respondent spouse refuses to sign the paperwork or file a response to the divorce petition within the 30-day window, the petitioning spouse can opt for a default divorce.

In a true default divorce, the petitioning spouse moves forward with the divorce filing and has control over all decisions regarding property distribution, alimony, child support and custody. By not signing the paperwork, the respondent spouse gives all control of the process over to the petitioning spouse and must live with whatever the court decides. In order to avoid a true default divorce in California, the respondent spouse must sign the paperwork and either file a response to the issues at hand or submit a notarized written agreement to the court.

Speak with a California Divorce Attorney Today

Unfortunately, you cannot simply stop a divorce from taking place by refusing to sign the divorce petition. By refusing to sign the paperwork, you are placing yourself at serious risk personally and financially. Call or contact one of the family law attorneys at Kearney | Baker today at 626-768-2945 to learn more about your legal options.

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