In divorce cases, the filing of initial dissolution papers requires the acceptance of papers or process service of the other spouse to move forward with dissolving the marriage. But what happens if your spouse dodges the petition or refuses to sign? Will you remain legally married? No, but there are a few steps you need to take to proceed.
Have Your Spouse Legally Served With the Divorce Petition
To proceed with your divorce even if your spouse won’t sign acceptance of the petition and other initial paperwork, you must be able to show one of two things: the receipt of court documents by your spouse can be confirmed or you put forth a reasonable effort into locating and serving your spouse but were still unsuccessful. Most often you work with a professional process server to have your spouse served in person.
Steps to Take When Your Spouse Can’t Be Found
If your spouse cannot be successfully served in-person, you may need to have the notice of the pending action printed in the local public newspaper, also known as service by publication.
However, this option is generally thought of as a last resort and is almost exclusively granted only after a person can demonstrate that they’ve put exceptional effort into finding their spouse, including completing a diligent search questionnaire.
Asking the Court for a Default Divorce Judgment
In the case that your spouse doesn’t respond to the public notice after a specific window of time, the next step is to file a motion with the court to request a default divorce. A judge will review your case with your spouse absent and grant the dissolution of your marriage. However, a judge may not grant all relief sought under a default.
Should You Involve a Florida Divorce Attorney?
If you are considering getting a divorce and think your spouse may be difficult to locate or may refuse to cooperate with the divorce papers, it’s important to consult with an experienced Florida divorce lawyer. Contact Kevyn Noonan Hayes, P.A. to learn more about protecting your rights and best interests in a situation where your spouse may not be agreeable. Call now at 239-591-6248.