What Can You Do If Your Spouse Won’t Sign Separation Agreement?

a pen on a paper with the word signature

Your spouse refusing to sign a separation agreement is one of the most challenging crossroads in life. It’s a situation that brings with it a mix of frustration, confusion, and a quest for resolution. You’re not alone in this. Unfortunately, many people face this hurdle, searching for a way to move forward when the path seems blocked. As a divorce law firm in Brampton we come across cases like yours frequently and have successfully helped our clients move ahead and get divorced. 

Understand Their Reason 

While it might be difficult to put yourself in their situation, take a step back and think –  Are they in denial about the state of your marriage, hoping for reconciliation, or are there specific terms in the agreement they disagree with? 

Ask them to meet you publicly in the presence of a family member or a close friend and offer open communication. Tell them that you are willing to compromise and talk out the final details. Here are some questions you can ask them:

1. Is there anything in the agreement that you want to change?

2. Is there a part of you that wishes to reconcile? 

3. How can I make this process as smooth as possible for you?

4. Do you have any concerns about the separation? 

5. Do you have any financial or legal concerns stopping you from signing the papers? 

They might agree to meet but still behave passively. This is your sign to reach out to a divorce lawyer and get things started officially right away.  

A lawyer sitting at a desk with a laptop

A divorce lawyer will offer you a few pathways to proceed, including: 

1. Negotiation

Before moving to more formal proceedings, a lawyer might first suggest trying to negotiate directly with your spouse or through attorneys. This involves revisiting the terms of the separation agreement to address any specific concerns or objections your spouse has. 

2. Mediation

Mediation involves a neutral third party who helps both spouses discuss and resolve their disputes. It’s a non-adversarial process that can often lead to a mutually acceptable agreement without the need for court intervention. A mediator can only facilitate communication and offer solutions that either spouse hasn’t thought about or mentioned yet. 

3. Collaborative Divorce

In a collaborative divorce, both spouses and their attorneys agree to work together to negotiate a settlement without going to court. Both parties should communicate openly and cooperate and agree with all aspects of the divorce, including asset division, child custody, and support. If the collaborative process is unsuccessful, the spouses may need to start over with new representation in court.

4. Filing for Divorce Without Agreement

If negotiation, mediation, and collaborative efforts fail, your lawyer might advise you to file for divorce unilaterally. This means you would ask the court to dissolve your marriage without your spouse’s agreement. The court process can then be used to resolve issues such as asset division, child custody, and support payments.

5. Default Divorce

If your spouse refuses to respond to your divorce filing (i.e., does not file an answer within the required time frame), you may be able to request a default judgment from the court. A default divorce means the court may grant the divorce according to your terms because your spouse chose not to participate in the process. However, courts prefer to make decisions based on both parties’ inputs, so this option might not be available in all cases or for all issues.

6. Contested Divorce

If your spouse responds to your divorce filing but disagrees with the terms, your divorce becomes contested. In this case, your lawyer would prepare for a court trial where a judge will make decisions on the contested issues. Contested divorces can be lengthy and expensive, but sometimes they are necessary to resolve disputes.

7. Legal Separation

In some cases, if a divorce is not immediately possible or desired, your lawyer might suggest filing for a legal separation. This court order can address many of the same issues as a divorce, such as asset division and child custody, without formally ending the marriage. We recommend this for couples who want to separate but remain legally married.

Separation and divorce can feel like a never-ending struggle but we promise there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Our divorce lawyers are dedicated to providing the best resolution for your legal issues. Please reach out to us for a free consultation (up to 15 minutes only).

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