Can I Divorce My Spouse If He Or She Won’t Sign The Paperwork?

Divorce is undoubtedly simpler when both spouses agree to the divorce and its terms. When this occurs, the spouses often can simply obtain a dissolution, which is in effect a divorce, but allows the parties to agree on most of the terms of the divorce without court involvement. However, when the parties cannot agree to terms, a divorce will be required.

If one spouse does not agree to the divorce, Ohio law does not allow that spouse to prevent the divorce from taking place. The non-complying spouse can delay the process and make it difficult, but the refusal of that spouse to consent will not keep the divorce from occurring. Thus, a person can obtain a divorce without their spouse's consent.

Grounds for Divorce

The court must have a reason, or grounds, upon which to base a divorce. Ohio provides for both no-fault grounds, such as incompatibility, and fault-based divorce, provided there is adequate proof that one spouse did something to destroy the marriage.

Fault-Based Grounds

Claiming a fault-based ground for divorce requires the spouse seeking the divorce to prove that his or her spouse did something to destroy the marriage. If sufficient proof is not provided, the divorce will not be granted. For example, Ohio law provides, under ORC 3105.01(C), that a court may grant a divorce based upon adultery. This will require the filing spouse to provide sufficient proof of the adultery in order for the court to grant the divorce based on this ground.

No-Fault Divorce

No-fault divorce, based on grounds such as incompatibility, is a favorite choice for divorce attorneys because very little proof is required. A possible issue with the no-fault ground of incompatibility is that both spouses must agree to the grounds upon which it is based. One spouse cannot force the other to divorce based on incompatibility - the objecting spouse can simply deny the issue of incompatibility. However, the spouse who denies incompatibility cannot stop the divorce based upon the denial because the other spouse can simply base the divorce upon other grounds.

If the spouse seeking the divorce cannot prove a fault-based ground, or if incompatibility is being denied, the filing spouse is not required to stay in the marriage. Instead, Ohio provides other no-fault grounds, including that spouses may divorce based upon the no-fault ground of living separate and apart, without interruption or cohabitation, for one year. This requires exactly what it says: the spouses must actually live in separate homes for at least the required one year period.