Divorcing a Spouse Who Refuses to Cooperate
Divorces are among the few family law decisions that can be made unilaterally. One spouse decides that they have done all they can to stay in a marriage and opts to file for divorce. However, it is possible that the other spouse will refuse to sign divorce papers, which can make the process far more difficult than it normally is. There are ways around such a roadblock, and it is important to know what they are.
Factors to Keep In Mind
If you are planning to initiate a divorce in the near future, there are several important factors for you to consider. The first is that under Illinois law, it is, for all intents and purposes, impossible to stop a divorce from happening even if one spouse is dead set against it. It goes against public policy to keep a spouse in a marriage where he or she is miserable. Despite this, it is entirely possible for one spouse to stall and obstruct the process.
Another important point is that as of last year, major changes to Illinois divorce law have taken effect. Prior to 2016, the question of grounds for the divorce made a difference in terms of the process. More specifically, if one wanted to file for no-fault divorce—lacking any grounds except for “irreconcilable differences”—a person had to live “separate and apart” from his or her spouse for at least two years and show that attempts at reconciliation had failed. Now, both the idea of fault grounds and the waiting period have been abolished. Regarding reconciliation attempts, you will only have to show this if the court does not hold that any attempts would be “problematic to the well-being of the family.”
Alternative Ways Around a Spouse’s Refusal
Despite the fact that Illinois law does not permit one spouse to entirely halt a divorce proceeding, many spouses will nonetheless try. There are generally two ways that a divorce can proceed if one spouse refuses to sign papers: mediation and default.
Mediation in Illinois is offered in every county by a trained mediator from the Domestic Relations Division of the circuit court. While Illinois mediators do not have to be certified, many of them are. Mediators are trusted advisors that can often help couples work through their problems in regard to their divorce agreement. Mediators are not psychiatrists, but they can help a recalcitrant spouse see that a divorce will be equitable and fair if that was a worry.
The alternative for a spouse who flatly refuses to have anything to do with proceedings is for the filing spouse to eventually obtain a default judgment. A judge may grant a default judgment if your spouse has been completely non-communicative, and it allows the process to go ahead as if they had consented to your proposal for property distribution, parenting time, and other elements of the divorce. For a spouse to not participate in divorce proceedings—no matter how much he or she objects—is decidedly to his or her detriment.
Work With a Knowledgeable Divorce Lawyer
It can be confusing and infuriating if your spouse refuses to participate in the divorce process. However, there is recourse, and there is help available as you navigate the process. Contact an experienced Kane County divorce attorney to discuss your case and explore your available options. Call 630-232-9700 for a confidential consultation today.