What Happens If My Spouse Refuses to Accept the Divorce

Divorce is a tough psychological experience for anyone, and some people handle it better than others. In many situations, one spouse wants the divorce more than the other. Some spouses even refuse to acknowledge that a divorce is taking place, trying to stop it by pretending the divorce doesn’t exist. This can be a worrying situation, especially if you need the divorce to escape from a toxic situation, protect yourself or your finances, or move forward with your life.

Fortunately, Minnesota law is designed to help spouses escape toxic marriages with or without the participation of their spouse.

Your Spouse Cannot Stop The Divorce by Not Participating

Once you officially begin divorce proceedings, the only way your spouse could put the breaks on is by showing up to court with a lawyer and participating. If they’re not willing to do that, don’t worry. Your divorce will move forward. Whether your spouse is refusing to acknowledge the divorce at all or is stubbornly refusing to sign the papers, this actually works in your favor.

Minnesota Statutes Chapter 518 relates to marriage dissolution and Statute 518.13 defines that if a summons or divorce is not responded to, it goes into “default” and therefore can be handled and completed in a default fashion.

What this means is that if your spouse refuses to participate or be represented, the proceedings can continue without them. This makes you the only party negotiating for the final divorce terms. Let’s walk through the process step-by-step.

1. You Serve the Divorce Papers and Summons

A default divorce proceeding starts when you serve your divorce papers, drawn up by your lawyer. The served papers are like your opening proposal for divorce negotiations including your desired terms. This is where you define how you’d like to split child custody, finances, and shared assets and your spouse has the opportunity to respond with negotiations or a counter-proposal.

Your served papers also include a petition to divorce to the court and a summons for your spouse to file their answer. Their answer can either be a complete agreement or a counter-offer which opens negotiations.

2. Your Spouse has 30 Days to Respond and Begin Negotiations

The summons gives your spouse 30 days to file their response, and the court holds that window open. This gives a participating spouse time to consult with their lawyer and draw up a counter-offer or open negotiations on the spot.

3. If Your Spouse Neglects the Summons, The Divorce “Defaults”

However, if your spouse fails to send any response to the court within 30 days, the divorce can go on without them. It is assumed by the court that they do not wish to participate or have no overwhelming desire to counter-offer your proposed divorce terms. In this case, the divorce enters a “default” state and is handled in a neutral manner without negotiations or deliberation.

4. A Defaulted Divorce Provides Everything You Asked For

Finally, the good news for you is that a defaulted divorce only has only one divorce petition. As long as all the terms you requested are adherent to Minnesota and Federal divorce law, then there is a strong chance that you will be granted everything in your initial divorce petition.

Filing for divorce in Minnesota always favors spouses who participate over those who do not. By working with your lawyer, you can write a favorable initial divorce document that can be quickly approved by the court once your non-participating spouse allows the summons to default. Whether you are considering a divorce with a spouse who is refusing to cooperate or you have already served the papers and are worried about what happens when your spouse fails to respond, we can help. Contact us today to find out more about how to achieve a successful Minnesota divorce with or without the cooperation of your soon-to-be ex.