Can I Still Get a Divorce in California If My Spouse Won’t Sign the Divorce Papers?

California is classified as a no-fault divorce state, which means that the state does not require reasoning or consent from the other spouse to successfully divorce. Here’s what to do if your spouse won’t sign the divorce papers in California.

California does not require proof in order for individuals to get a divorce. This is commonly known as “irreconcilable differences”. Additionally, the permission or signature of the other spouse is not required to complete the divorce. If the receiving spouse is unwilling to sign the divorce petitions, California law protects the right of the filing spouse to continue on with the divorce regardless of compliance.

Related: What If a Spouse Doesn’t Respond to Divorce Papers?

How to Determine if the Divorce is a True-Default Case

When filing for a divorce, the petitioning spouse will serve the receiving spouse with a summons and petition for divorce. The type of response received determines if the case is to be considered “true-default” or not.

If the receiving spouse does not file a response after 30 days of being served and there is no written agreement between the spouses, then the case is considered a “true-default” case.

In a “true-default” case, the receiving parent is relinquishing any legal say they may have in the divorce. The court will most likely comply with whatever the filing spouse requested in their divorce papers.

If the receiving spouse responds to the service of divorce papers, or they do not respond but are able to reach an agreement with the filing spouse, then this case is considered a “default” or “uncontested case”. However, both of these two instances both rely on the cooperation of the receiving spouse.

Related: Default Divorce Judgment in California

How to File for Divorce if Your Spouse Won’t Sign Divorce Papers

If one finds themselves in a “true-default” divorce due to an uncooperative spouse, they can file a request for default against them. Here are the next steps the filing spouse should take to proceed with the divorce process:

1. Complete and turn in the following forms to the court:

2. If child custody is in question, fill out any forms that may apply and attach them to the Judgment. If there is a request for child support, fill out any forms that may apply to the situation.

3. If there is a request for spousal or partner support, fill out any forms that may be applicable.

4. If there is an order dividing community property and debt, fill out any forms that may apply.

5. If required by your court, fill out any local forms through the county clerk’s office.

6. Have the forms reviewed by either the court’s family law facilitator if provided or a hired lawyer.

7. Make at least two copies of all your forms.

8. Turn in all forms to the court clerk.

9. Receive the final judgment by mail.

What Does a Default Divorce Entail?

A default divorce is usually granted by the court if the non-filing spouse refuses to respond and sign the proof of service. After 30 days of failure to respond, the court will step in and aid in the divorce.

The court will review the proposed judgment on property that was listed in the original divorce petition and determine if it conforms with their policy of equal division. Commonly, the court will agree to most of the requests in the petition so long as they comply with their equal division policy. After the decision is made by the court, the divorce will become final.

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If you or a loved one has any more questions on what to do if your spouse won’t sign the divorce papers in California, contact us. Get your free consultation with one of our experienced California divorce attorneys today!