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Contested Divorce: How to Get My Spouse to Sign the Divorce Papers

In a divorce, there are few things more frustrating than a partner who simply refuses to cooperate with the process. Unfortunately, you may be stuck dealing with a spouse who is intentionally delaying by refusing to sign the divorce papers, making unreasonable demands for their signature, or who is simply not communicating at all. 

Please know that you are not trapped in a marriage simply because your spouse refuses to sign the divorce papers. In this article, our Houston contested divorce attorneys discuss the steps you can take to get your spouse to sign the divorce papers and we explain what you can do if they simply refuse to cooperate. 

Want Your Spouse to Sign Divorce Papers? Here are Three Tips

Every divorce is different. In some cases, both spouses are in total agreement—they want a divorce and they want one as quickly as possible. However, in other cases, one partner may be wavering or even trying to stop the divorce altogether. Here are three tips that you can use if you want your spouse to sign divorce papers: 


  • Communicate and Listen: Always keep an open mind. If your spouse is reluctant to sign the divorce papers, it is generally worth listening to their side of the story. Divorce is a deeply emotional process. Your spouse may simply need to be heard before they will begin cooperating. If you are willing to communicate and listen, you may be able to make significant progress towards getting your spouse to sign the papers. 


  • Clarify Your Intentions: One of the most important things to remember is that your spouse cannot prevent you from getting a divorce. In Texas, a refusal to cooperate with the process will not stop the divorce. You should clarify your intentions. Calmly inform your spouse that you will be pursuing divorce—with or without a signature. Remind them that cooperation is in their best interests. 
  • Protect Your Rights: Divorce can be complicated—especially if you are separating from a difficult partner. Always be ready to take action to protect your rights. Consult with an experienced Houston, TX divorce lawyer who can get all of the paperwork in order to allow you to move forward in an efficient, effective manner.  



You Do Not Need Your Spouse’s Consent to Get a Divorce in Texas

We must emphasize: Your spouse’s signature is not required to finalize your divorce. Of course, the process will be easier, less stressful, and potentially less expensive if your spouse signs the papers—but they cannot prevent you from ending your marriage. If they will not sign divorce papers, you will eventually be required to serve them with a divorce petition. Under Texas law, you are not required to serve your spouse with divorce papers if they voluntarily:

  • Sign and complete an ‘Answer’; or
  • Sign and complete a ‘Waiver or Service’. 

However, a spouse who will not sign must be served. If your spouse refuses to sign, you should call an experienced Houston divorce lawyer. You must serve divorce papers in a proper manner. If you fail to comply with the Texas service of process rules, it will cause major procedural problems—delaying the process even further.

A Motion for Default Judgment May Be Appropriate 

Once served with divorce papers, your spouse may decide to file an ‘Answer’ or a ‘Counterclaim’. At this point, you would be involved in a contested divorce—and, assuming you do not already have one, you should hire an attorney. While there is still an opportunity to come to the table and work towards a divorce settlement, it is time to start building a case. 

In other cases, a spouse who is served with divorce papers may still refuse to take action. Indeed, the deadline may pass by without an ‘Answer’, a ‘Counterclaim’, or any other type of formal or informal communication. Even in these cases, you are not prevented from getting a divorce. Your lawyer can help you seek a default judgment. In Texas, failure to respond to a divorce petition in the allotted time is grounds for a default judgment—assuming the divorce papers were properly served. 

Contact Our Houston, TX Divorce Lawyers for Immediate Help

At the Ramos Law Group, PLLC, our Texas contested divorce attorneys are skilled, solutions-oriented advocates for clients. If you need help getting your spouse to sign the divorce papers, we can offer guidance and support. To get a strictly confidential consultation, please contact our law firm today. From our offices in Houston, The Woodlands, and Sugar Land, we serve communities all over the region, including in Harris County, Fort Bend County, Liberty County, and Chambers County. 

Last Updated on May 12, 2020 by Mary E. Ramos

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Mary E. Ramos

Mary E. Ramos is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. She is recognized and respected throughout the Houston legal community for dedication in effectively representing clients’ rights and interests. Mary understands the emotional side of divorce and brings a special compassion to each and every case.

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