23 Jul 16

Can I Refuse To Go Through With a Divorce?

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When a couple reaches a point where a divorce may be the only option, the situation is difficult at best. However, in some cases where one spouse may be more eager for the divorce than the other, the reluctant spouse may choose not to sign the divorce papers. In these instances, that may leave one spouse feeling as if they are being held hostage and unable to move forward with their plans. However, rather than sit back and feel helpless, there are options one spouse has if the other refuses to go through with the divorce.

Contempt Citation
If a spouse appears to be stalling by refusing to sign the divorce papers, the spouse seeking the divorce can petition the court for a contempt citation. If the court grants the request, you will usually be compensated for additional attorney and court fees you incur as a result of your spouse’s stall tactics.

Refusing to Negotiate
If you try to refuse going through with a divorce by deciding not to negotiate with your spouse, chances are you’ll find yourself making it much harder on yourself in the end. If a contempt citation is not issued against you, your spouse may be able to obtain a default divorce, which can be granted by a judge if the court determines you have no plans to negotiate in good faith.

No-Show for Court Hearing
Many spouses believe they can keep a divorce from happening by not showing up for their scheduled court hearings. However, similar to a refusal to negotiate, you will rarely if ever get your way. If you continually fail to appear at scheduled court hearings concerning your divorce, the court will construe that to mean that you have agreed to the terms of the divorce. If that happens, you will have little if any recourse to make any future changes to the agreement, leaving you at the mercy of the court. To make sure this does not happen, it’s always best to show up for all scheduled hearings and participate as much as possible.

Don’t Disappear
In divorce cases that may get out of hand, one spouse may decide to simply disappear in hopes of having the other spouse change their mind. Yet again, this tactic will not serve you well. If you choose to walk away and hide, your spouse may be granted a divorce based on abandonment. While there may be a waiting period of up to six months before the court grants a divorce for this reason, that rarely changes the outcome. During this period, the court as well as your spouse will be required to make numerous attempts to contact you. However, if you cannot be found within that time, your spouse will be granted the divorce under the terms they desire.

If you’re refusing to go through with a divorce because you think the settlement is terribly unfair to you, there is always the option of mediation. Similar to a court hearing, these meetings can take place in an environment where particularly troublesome issues can be discussed in a calm manner. In most cases, several meetings with a mediator can lead to an agreement. If this happens, only a short court hearing will be needed to finalize the divorce.

While it’s possible for you to try to refuse going through with a divorce, in most cases your efforts will backfire. Rather than disappear or refuse to show up for court hearings, it’s best to use all reasonable means available to you in order to reach an agreement you can live with in the years ahead.

If you need more help, consider speaking to one of our NY Divorce lawyers today

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