Your Spouse Won't Sign Divorce Papers: Now What?!

Your Spouse Won't Sign Divorce Papers: Now What?!

What do you do when you want a divorce but your spouse won’t sign divorce papers? How do you deal with a reluctant spouse?

Here are a few practical tips to keep you from tearing your hair out!

So what do you do if your spouse refuses to sign your divorce papers?

Today, let’s talk about what you can do your spouse won’t sign your divorce papers … and it’s driving you crazy!

As frustrating as it is, unfortunately, it happens all the time.

Step #1: Identify the problem. Is your spouse refusing to participate in your divorce at all? Or has your spouse actually participated in the divorce up to a certain point, but then just won’t sign off on the final paperwork? Those are two different problems. So step #1 is identifying which one of those problems you’ve got.

Step #2: Figure out your spouse’s motivation (… as best you can!). In other words, WHY won’t your spouse sign papers or participate in your divorce? There can be a lot of different reasons for their behavior. Understanding your spouse’s motivation will help you deal with his/her behavior better.

Step #3: Understand the timing of your problem. It makes a big difference whether your spouse is dragging his or her feet at the beginning of your divorce or at the end of it. WHEN the problem occurs can tell you a lot about what the problem is, and what your spouse’s real motivation may be.

Let’s talk about some examples.

Let’s say your spouse just totally refuses to participate in your divorce? Once you identify that as the problem, you go to step number two and ask yourself WHY won’t they participate? While you’re asking that, be aware of where you are in the divorce process. ((Step #3)

If you just your spouse that you want to divorce last week – or yesterday! – OF COURSE they’re going to be fighting you! They’re still in shock. They’re in denial. That’s a normal part of the grieving process at that point.

On the other hand, if your spouse is saying, “No! We’re not getting a divorce!” and you moved a year ago – that’s a much different problem! That’s no longer a normal part of the grieving process. So, in that case, you need to take a much different approach, maybe a stronger approach to the problem.

If that’s your situation you may say, “I understand that you don’t want to divorce me but we’re getting divorced.” Then maybe your next step is to talk to an attorney and have the attorney send your spouse a letter with your divorce papers. Or maybe the lawyer will take things a step further and actually have the sheriff serve your spouse with papers. Then, if your spouse ignores the court summons, now they’re going to suffer legal ramifications for their failure to respond.
Now, unfortunately, getting a divorce from a reluctance spouse will probably take longer and cost more. But you can definitely still do it. Your spouse doesn’t need to participate in your divorce. You can get a divorce regardless of whether your spouse participates or not.

Let’s talk next about understanding your spouse’s motivation. Knowing what is motivating your spouse helps you understand the level of response that you will need in order to deal with your reluctant spouse’s behavior.

What happens if your spouse has participated in the divorce up to a point and now it’s time to either settle your divorce or go to trial? What happens when your spouse either won’t respond to your settlement proposal or won’t sign off on the final paperwork?

That’s a very different circumstance than having a spouse who won’t participate in your divorce at all.

Now, your spouse still may not want a divorce. That still might be part of their motivation. But it also may be that they just don’t like the deal that you gave them.

As frustrating as that might be, when your spouse does that you have the opportunity to either change the deal and give them something more or different, or tell your lawyer to get a trial date. What matters at that point is that you don’t just do nothing! If you do nothing your spouse can stall the process indefinitely. SO you need to take action by changing the deal or getting a trial date.

Now, going to trial might not have been what you wanted to do. But ultimately – if your spouse won’t sign your divorce papers or won’t participate in your divorce – you will need a judge to divorce you.

What’s important to remember is that if you and your spouse can’t agree on your divorce terms a judge will decide your divorce issues for you. You WILL get divorced. Your spouse can’t stop that.

I hope this gave you some ideas about how to handle this situation. For more tips about handing the situation when your spouse won’t sign divorce papers go to


  1. In April we did a separation agreement that he asked for he signed it but he did not have it notarized after being separated for one year I filed for the divorce and we do have property and vehicles I recently received a bill from my attorney and he has not been anyting I haven’t even been in court we’re already two years in separation he incarcerated and he’s not allowed to have any contact with me it was court-ordered what should I do

  2. You’re given me hope . He filed six months ago and nothing yet he got a lawyer and I got a lawyer but now he stopped he’s not doing anything . I’m already over it I want to get a divorce as soon as possible

  3. My sister does not won’t sign the divorce but thats only because hes trying to give her only 20% and take away all her visitation rights to see the 9 month old child

  4. Thanks so much for this info. Mine is dragging his feet because #1 he wants to have his cake(#sidechicks) and eat it too & #2 he thinks that a judge will award me some of his rental properties(#greed).

  5. My wife’s ex husband refused to sign simply b/c he didn’t want someone else to have her b/c he didn’t want to lose like it was a video game

  6. I’m in South Africa and I’ve been in a divorce process for almost two years. He dragged this from the start. Now he refuses to sign a settlement agreement, which requires that the asserts be handed over to liquidators. This came after he refused any deal put on the table for him. Infront of both our lawyers he agreed to the settlement, but on the side he tells me he will never sign. I tried sending a message to my lawyer and got no reaction. What should I do, please assist. I’m drowning in anxiety, stress and I’m afraid I might fall into depression. I have to live for my kids. As I type this it’s in the middle of the night, I can’t sleep at all. Drowning and I have gotten to a point where I hate him.

  7. people who hold the other by not signing should die in hell for wasting the other ones time that he or she can never get back unless one cheated or hidding money etc….but just not signing even they been separated for years is a fuck up mind set….. make the person has no value because the one dont want you anymore and wants to move on but u still hanging on to them….

  8. I’ve been married to my Narc husband for 11 years. I been asking for a divorce for 8 years.. his reply is? Nope and you can’t make me.. and if you file against me.. I will financially tied it up in court.. and we both know you cannot afford that. And he’s right.I cannot financially.🤦

  9. I was also thinking about getting a divorce from my husband because he is not doing right at all he is leaving it up to me to get a p,ace to live and he is supposed to be the man and he is disrespectful to me and my family he say things that are not nice and he has muscular dystrophy and so do I and my family is a mess too and they are mad at both of us and I am about to just cut them out of my life all together

  10. My feyonce has been trying to get a devorce from his ex for two years and his ex won’t sign we have lots of plans and were stuck

  11. I am in this process right now. He started to participate and now that we are ready to finalize, he’s MIA. He won’t respond to requests. It is very frustrating. I don’t want to waste anymore time at court hearings. But I guess this is what needs to be done in order to end this nightmare.

  12. What happens if the spouse who is seeking a divorce has been diagnosed with a personality disorder that is untreated, and seeking divorces is one of the symptoms of the personality disorder that said spouse suffers from?

  13. I was married two years. Been getting divorced for two years two months. We have no mandatory settlement conference set. No trial set. I’m on my third attorney. They act like they will settle then don’t. Each attorney falls for this. He wants stuff at my house. I offered to hire a professional mover to move it. He is living with his second woman and still won’t settle. We have no home to settle. No money. Each have a vehicle. That’s it. He is a narcissist and pissed I kicked his abusive ass out. Washington state is a community property no fault state. I need help to escape this abuser using the system to continue abusing me. What do I do.

  14. A prudent way to think if your married is to document most things that happen during your marriage . Documentation might save your butt big time in a divorce.

  15. Yes very. My life is miserable and our relationship and family is getting worse. I feel dead inside.

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