What Happens if One Spouse Refuses to Sign Divorce Papers in North Carolina?

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “How long does getting a divorce take?”


Divorce is almost always tough for both spouses. However, the divorce process can become even more complicated when one spouse refuses to sign divorce papers. If the decision to end the marriage is not mutual, it may be difficult to finalize your divorce.

signature-sticker-Charlotte-Mooresville-Monroe-Divorce-Lawyer-300x225However, just because one spouse refuses to sign divorce papers does not necessarily mean that the divorce cannot be completed. Many states, including North Carolina, allow parties to finalize a divorce even when one of the spouses refuses to sign divorce papers. This is called a default divorce.

If your spouse refuses to sign divorce papers or is otherwise uncooperative, consult with an experienced family lawyer in North Carolina to help you complete your divorce despite the other spouse’s unwillingness to cooperate.


What Happens if Your Spouse Does Not Respond to Divorce Papers Within 30 Days?

Under North Carolina law, a divorce can be granted if the spouses have lived apart for at least 12 months before seeking a divorce. After being separated for at least one year, one spouse can file a complaint for divorce.

Then, the other spouse is served with a copy of the complaint as well as other documents related to the impending divorce process. The recipient spouse must respond to the other spouse’s complaint within 30 days of the date of service.

If the spouse fails to file a response within the 30 days, the filing spouse has a right to initiate a default divorce. If this happens, the filing spouse can ask the court to grant a default divorce by submitting a Motion for Entry of Default. All of the terms related to the divorce, including property division, will be decided by the spouse who initiated the divorce.


What if Your Spouse Intentionally Delays the Divorce Process?

If the recipient spouse does not want to end the marriage, they may file a counterclaim. While their counterclaim will delay the process, it will not prevent the divorce from taking place. If this happens, you will have to negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement agreement either on your own or through mediation.

If you cannot reach a consensus because your spouse does not want to cooperate or intentionally delays the divorce process, your divorce case will go to court and will be decided by a judge.


Filing for Divorce without Your Spouse’s Consent

When filing for divorce without your spouse’s consent, seeking a no-fault divorce may be the fastest way to complete your divorce. When filing for a divorce based on either spouse’s fault, parties are required to prove that fault resulted in the breakdown of the marriage.

When spouses do not blame each other and file for a no-fault divorce, they are not required to prove spousal misconduct. Besides, the recipient spouse will not have an excuse to dispute the filing when their partner files for a no-fault divorce in North Carolina.

While your spouse’s refusal to sign divorce papers or uncooperativeness cannot prevent you from seeking a divorce in North Carolina, your spouse could still delay the process and make it more complicated. In that case, it is important to hire a Charlotte divorce attorney to help you file paperwork and find ways to speed up your divorce. Contact our attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to discuss your options. Get a phone or video consultation by calling at (704) 370-2828 to speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today or find additional resources here.







The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes two Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.






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