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What if my spouse won’t agree to the divorce?

On Behalf of | Sep 24, 2021 | Divorce |

You’ve spent a great deal of time and energy coming to your decision to divorce. It wasn’t easy. Most people have strong feelings of duty to remain in their marriages. It is only when the marriage is truly broken to the point where it can’t be fixed that most people decide to divorce.

Now, your spouse has said they won’t grant the divorce. What are your options?

In Arizona, only one spouse needs to decide it is time for divorce. You do not need agreement from your spouse. When you file for divorce, you (the “petitioner”) will have the papers served on your spouse (the “respondent”). At that point, your ex has the opportunity to respond to the divorce petition. If they don’t respond at all, you could be granted a default divorce.

Your ex can only oppose the divorce by claiming that the marriage is not irretrievably broken. Or, in the case of a covenant marriage, they can argue that none of the grounds for divorce from a covenant marriage have been met. Your ex might also ask the court for conciliation, which is an effort to save the marriage. However, there is ultimately no way your ex can stop the divorce.

Your decision was hard. Give your ex a little leeway.

Most spouses don’t come to the conclusion at the same time that their marriage is broken. There is bound to be some opposition at first. Try to remember that your decision wasn’t made lightly and give your ex a bit of time to get used to the idea that the marriage is truly over. The more onboard your ex is with the divorce, the easier it will be to accomplish.

Be clear about your intentions, and don’t leave any doubt in your ex’s mind that you are leaving. Be ready to discuss your reasons calmly and compassionately.

Consider entering counseling, even if you don’t think your marriage can be saved. If you have kids, you will need to co-parent with your ex for a long time to come. Improving or repairing your relationship is worth it even if it doesn’t lead to a reconciliation.

Ultimately, it is not your responsibility to ensure your ex can live with your decision to divorce. Many people have had to go through a divorce they don’t necessarily want – and they have survived. You and your ex will, too.

Some spouses will dig in their heels.

It may be understandable for your ex to resist for some period of time, but it can still be infuriating. If your ex begins to abuse the process, your divorce attorney may ask the court to intervene and order your ex to cooperate.