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Brooklyn Family Law, Blog

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October 20, 2014
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Divorce Without Spouse Signature, Can I Get One?

Divorce Without Spouse SignatureWhether or not your spouse is willing to “sign” papers for divorce has absolutely no impact on whether you are granted a divorce because there is nothing for them to sign for you to get a divorce. You do not need your spouse’s permission to sue them for divorce or to get the divorce once you have sued them. A Court makes the decision as to whether you are entitled to a divorce and it has nothing whatsoever to do with your spouse’s signature.

A divorce is a lawsuit just like any other lawsuit. You will provide details of your situation to your attorney who will then draft a document called a “complaint” against your spouse based on those details. Your attorney will tell you whether you have enough cause to bring a case against your spouse for divorce. Now, with what we are calling “no-fault” divorce, it is not as difficult a process as it used to be. A document called as “summons” is also drafted and the purpose of this document is to demand your spouse respond in a specified time-frame. These papers are then filed with the County Clerk and assigned what is called an Index Number. All papers in your case will now have that same Index Number. Then, your spouse is served with these papers, the summons and complaint, and is required to formally respond in a specified amount of time. He or she may or may not respond. If they do not respond, that does not mean that you cannot get your divorce. It only means that you get it without their participating in the process. Your divorce action has begun and your spouse has not been required, or asked, to sign anything.

Your divorce goes through several stages up through and including trial, a trial happening only if you are not able to settle all of the issues prior to that time. Obviously, if your spouse has not responded to the summons and complaint and is not participating, an agreement seems unlikely. But if your spouse is participating in the divorce action, and the two of you agree on what you want to happen, you may wish to make your own agreement on how distribution of your finances, custody of your children, child support and maintenance are determined and not leave those decisions to a judge. If there is any kind of a written agreement, then both you and your spouse would have to sign the agreement when you reach the terms you both want. Sometimes, you can put your agreement on the record of the Court in front of a stenographer and the Judge. There are times when a couple can agree on certain things but not others. It is possible to put together an agreement on just the things you do agree to. This would limit your trial to just the issues to which you cannot agree, and the Court’s accepting your agreement on the other matters as fair and reasonable. If you do not both agree as to how you want things determined, then your matter will go to trial. Your spouse’s signature will not be needed for this to happen either.

In short, getting your spouse’s signature, permission or agreement has nothing to do with whether you can get a divorce. We do not want to leave you with the impression that this brief synopsis is all that is involved in a divorce action because that is far from true. There are many additional steps in the process to bring a divorce from the first meeting with your attorney through to final judgment of divorce. For the purpose of this question, those steps do not matter because absolutely none of them require your spouse to sign anything in order for you to start an action for divorce.

To review the steps of obtaining a legal Divorce and if the law supports a divorce without a Spouse Signature, contact Brooklyn Family Law Practice of Renata Weissman through the Contact form on this page, or call a Lawyer at 855-736-2829.