If you have decided to get a divorce, the process will go more smoothly if you and your spouse can both agree on the terms of the divorce and sign the necessary paperwork. However, there may be situations in which your spouse refuses to sign divorce papers, or participate in the divorce process. There could be a number of reasons for this refusal, such as:
They are hoping you will change your mind about getting a divorce;
They want to delay the process and cause more difficulty for you;
They are trying to get revenge because they blame you for breaking up your family;
They have legitimate concerns about the divorce agreement.
If your spouse is purposely delaying the process or refusing to cooperate, it is important to understand that there are still options available to you. By taking the correct steps, you can force your spouse to be involved in the divorce proceedings, and if they still refuse to cooperate, the court may rule in your favor on many issues. Once your divorce has been finalized, you can leave the relationship and move forward successfully.
The Process of Getting a Divorce in Illinois
As you proceed with your divorce, the first step is to file a petition for dissolution of marriage with the court clerk’s office. Once the petition has been filed, it will need to be served on your spouse through the Sheriff’s office, and they will have 30 days to respond, in the form of a written response, also filed with the court clerk’s office. If your spouse does not respond within that time frame, you can request that the court enter a default judgment against them. This means that the terms of the divorce may be decided without your spouse’s input, and they will be required to abide by the court’s decisions.
If your spouse responds to the petition as stated above within 30 days, you will be able to proceed with the divorce process. However, during this time, your spouse may have more opportunities to drag their feet and refuse to comply. They may refuse to turn over financial information during the discovery process, or they may not make a good faith effort to reach agreements with you in matters related to property division or child custody. If you are struggling to get your spouse to respond to your requests, or to work with you to reach agreements, your attorney can advise you of your options.
If necessary, you and your spouse may be required to participate in court-ordered mediation. During this process, you will work together with a neutral mediator to attempt to resolve all outstanding issues and create a divorce settlement. If your spouse refuses to participate in mediation, they could face consequences, including being held in contempt of court.
If you and your spouse cannot reach agreements through mediation, your case may proceed to litigation. A divorce trial may be held in which you will inform the judge (no jury trials for divorce) of the outstanding issues to be addressed, and each of you will be able to make arguments, present evidence, and call witnesses. At the conclusion of the trial, the judge will issue a final divorce judgment that legally dissolves your marriage and orders you and your spouse to follow instructions for how all divorce-related issues should be handled.
While the final judgment is meant to be the end of the divorce process, your spouse may still cause problems if they refuse to cooperate, such as by refusing to turn over property awarded to you, refusing to follow child custody agreements, or refusing to pay child support or spousal support. In these situations, you can take legal action to enforce the court’s orders. Since a divorce judgment is legally binding, your spouse’s refusal to follow it is a violation of the law, and they could be held in contempt of court. If so, they may be required to pay fines, or they could even be sentenced to jail.
Contact Our Oak Park Divorce Attorney
An uncooperative spouse can make divorce much more difficult. However, your attorney can advise you regarding the steps which need to be taken to force your spouse to participate in the process, and comply with orders put in place by the court. At [[title]], our Hillside divorce lawyer can help you determine the best ways to get through the divorce process successfully. We will advocate on your behalf during your divorce to make sure you can get through this difficult time and leave it in the past. To set up a free consultation, contact our office today at [[phone]].