Are you planning on divorcing a spouse in Austin, TX? Do you suspect they will try to stop the divorce from going forward? If so, you may wonder what happens if your spouse won’t sign divorce papers in Texas.
Can You Get a Divorce Without the Other Person Signing?
Yes. According to the Texas Family Code, both spouses don’t need to sign divorce papers. A judge can still grant a divorce when one spouse refuses to cooperate. They may do so if at least one spouse claims the relationship isn’t fixable.
You don’t have to explain in greater detail why you believe you can’t save your marriage. You also don’t have to cite any specific wrongdoing on your spouse’s part to justify a divorce. However, you may cite the following as grounds for divorce if they apply:
- Conviction of a felony
- Living apart for at least three years
Citing these reasons for divorcing a spouse in Texas may help you receive more property after a divorce. Even so, you can get a divorce on the grounds that the marriage has become “insupportable.”
What Is the Process When Someone Files for Divorce in Texas?
The divorce process in Texas involves filing a petition for divorce. In Texas, you file your petition in a district court in the county where you or your spouse have resided for the last 90 days. One of the spouses must have lived in Texas for at least six months when you file a petition.
You must then serve your spouse with divorce papers. This allows them to respond. Your divorce becomes a contested divorce if they respond indicating they don’t agree to your terms. For example, they may disagree with the amount of child support you’re seeking. Or, they might disagree on child support issues.
You may have an uncontested divorce if your spouse agrees to the petition without exception
The court can grant you a divorce by default if your spouse doesn’t respond to a divorce petition.
To determine the deadline for responding to divorce papers, your spouse must count 20 days (including weekends and holidays) from the day they were served. They have until the Monday after that date to respond.
You may serve a spouse with divorce papers by:
- Serving papers via an authorized individual, such as a process server
- Social media
Email and social media are not the primary methods of serving divorce papers in Texas. You must first attempt to serve papers in person or via certified mail. The law permits you to serve papers through email or social media when those methods fail.
What Happens if a Spouse Refuses to Be Served Divorce Papers in Texas?
You don’t have to worry if your spouse refuses to respond after you’ve properly served them. The divorce can proceed with just you. However, you might wonder what happens if your spouse attempts to avoid being served papers.
A spouse whose whereabouts you know is unlikely to successfully avoid receiving divorce papers. However, you may not be in contact with your spouse. Or they might be hiding from you to avoid receiving your petition for divorce.
Texas law requires that you make a diligent attempt to locate your spouse if you’re unable to find them. You can’t state you were unable to find your spouse to serve them papers as a means of moving your divorce along. You must swear to the court that you exhausted all options for locating your spouse.
You may request that the court allow you to serve your spouse by posting or by publication in these circumstances. Service by posting involves posting a notice of the divorce suit in the relevant court. Service by publication involves publishing the notice of the divorce suit in a publication (like a local newspaper) where your spouse may see it.
Can a Judge Deny a Divorce in Texas?
It is difficult for a judge to deny a divorce in Texas. However, there are circumstances in which this can happen.
A judge can deny proceeding with your divorce if you haven’t made a genuine attempt to serve your spouse with papers.
A judge might also temporarily deny a divorce if they need certain forms of evidence to make key decisions. For example, the court may issue orders regarding spousal support, child support, etc. You might have to provide the judge with financial documentation to show why you deserve what you’re seeking. The judge can refuse to finalize the divorce on your terms until you supply such documentation.
Administrative and procedural issues can also result in a judge denying a divorce in Texas. For instance, you might need to show you meet residency requirements before finalizing your divorce. Or you may need to submit more paperwork or correct errors on paperwork you’ve already submitted.
The main thing to know is that a judge can’t permanently deny a divorce. These are just a few potential scenarios in which a judge may not grant a divorce as soon as they typically would.
Contact an Austin, Texas, Divorce Lawyer
You may still get a divorce if your spouse refuses to sign divorce papers in Texas. They may refuse to sign the divorce papers you initially served them with. Or, they may not sign the final decree of divorce. Neither will stop you from ending your marriage.
No matter how it occurs, the divorce process can be overwhelming. Our team of lawyers can help you through it. They can provide advocacy if your spouse takes issue with your proposed divorce terms.
Speak with an Austin, TX, divorce attorney at Smith Family Law for more information. Our goal is to make this experience as easy as possible while protecting your rights. Get started today by contacting us online or calling us at (512) 277-3166 for a free case review.