Can I Divorce My Spouse If He or She Won’t Sign the Paperwork?

On Behalf of | Nov 5, 2017 | Family Law

Considering how emotional the end of a marriage can be, sometimes one spouse will resist the idea of divorce from the very beginning. They may do this in hopes of salvaging the marriage or simply to be combative. They might beg for a second chance, or suggest marital counseling before moving forward. Some states actually require marital counseling prior to divorce, though Ohio is not one of them. In some situations counseling may be a worthwhile endeavor, but should not be forced on one spouse if that spouse knows that they want to get a divorce.

Unfortunately, what might at first seem like one spouse’s fight to save the marriage may turn into just a plain old fight. The opposing spouse might refuse to participate in negotiations, hijack the proceedings by not appearing when required or change their mind about agreements. They might even go so far as to refuse to sign the divorce paperwork.

Whether you are in this situation or you are worried that you might be after you ask for a divorce, it is important for you to know that your spouse’s attempts to derail the process will not stop a divorce.

How This Is Supposed To Work

Divorce is undoubtedly simpler when both spouses work together and see eye-to-eye. When this occurs, the spouses often can 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 signatures or 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.

Contempt Of Court For Spouses Who Try To Sabotage The Divorce Process

Ohio courts take their time seriously. If one spouse thinks they can sabotage the divorce by, for example, not showing up to court hearings, there could be repercussions. Not only will this not stop the divorce from moving forward, the spouse who failed to appear could be charged with contempt of court. The same is true if they ignore or fail to comply with any court orders related to the divorce process. Usually it does not come to this, thankfully.

As Ohio’s premier divorce law firm, our attorneys possess the skill and knowledge necessary to effectively represent you and your interests. We invite you to contact us at 614-341-7775 or through our online contact form to schedule a consultation to discuss your case. You’re not alone with us on your side.

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