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Can I Refuse to Sign the Divorce Papers?

While marriage and divorce both pertain to the relationship between two people, there is a slight difference. A marriage will never push through unless both parties sign the dotted line. A divorce in Texas and some states could still be obtained even if you do not sign the divorce papers.

There are steps that a spouse can take to end the marriage even if the other spouse refuses. Texas law distinguishes between an uncontested divorce and contested divorce. When parties reach a mutual agreement to part ways, the divorce is uncontested. If you would not sign the papers, your spouse will resort to a contested divorce.

Contested Divorce 

If you have been served the divorce papers and you have not responded to it or left it unsigned, your spouse will file for a default hearing date where the court can issue divorce orders and judgment. 

In this case, the process moves on to become a contested divorce. Your spouse will present a divorce decree to the court. The court will schedule a contested divorce hearing to decide on crucial topics like the division of property, custody, child support, tax liabilities, debt division, and alimony. 

Even if you refuse to sign the decree, the court can still proceed to implement the court orders. This is the main consequence of not signing the divorce papers—you lose the chance to dispute the decree and fully rely on the judge’s decision. 

Final Recourse to Dispute

If you have objections to the decree, then there will be a hearing, which is your chance to dispute. If an agreement is not reached, there will be a trial, and unless your spouse changes his mind, that trial will most likely end in divorce. 

The trial will resolve all issues involved in the divorce. There may be many reasons why you refuse to sign the papers. Some common reasons for the divorce are financial dependence, disagreement to the terms or simply that the other spouse would want to reconcile.

The problem is that Texas is a no-fault divorce state. It does not require a fault or a reason for a divorce to be awarded. Even if you make an effort to delay the proceedings, the court will always grant a divorce as long as there is one spouse pursuing it. 

Having a good lawyer is essential in responding to the proceedings. Reconciliation is a mutual decision, and if your spouse really wants a divorce, the court will grant it. It is better to attend the trial with a good lawyer to ensure you will have the best terms.

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas. If you have any questions you can contact him at timothy.hutton@austintexaslegal.com

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