What is a person to do when they want a divorce, but their spouse doesn’t? Seems like this scenario is one that would make a sticky situation even stickier and can make a mess out of the divorce process which is often already riddled with strife. Unfortunately, for many people this happens. One-half of the couple has had enough, is over the marriage in its entirety, cannot take another day together, and wants the relationship to end. When they present the idea to split to their partner, they realize that their spouse doesn’t want a divorce.
In this situation, the first best step might be to hear your partner out. Perhaps they have a change of heart of some sort, are suddenly willing to go to counseling, or would like to take at least one jab at rectifying the marriage before calling it quits. If you are divorcing during a period in the marriage where you are extremely angry or emotional his or her not wanting to divorce can actually be a good thing to slow down the divorce process a bit, and give you time to truly and rationally think through your troubles.
On the other hand, if you are certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that you want a divorce and nothing your spouse does or say can change your mind here are some appropriate steps and helpful hints to assist you during this transitional journey.
First and foremost, get in touch with a divorce attorney. In most states and locales, no-fault divorces are allowed. This could be necessary if you have just fallen out of love, or find that your differences are irreconcilable yet feel neither of you truly is to blame. If your partner has cheated on you, or done something else that is sparking the immediate need to divorce an attorney is your best way to find out the next best step to take.
Obviously, it is much more difficult if your partner doesn’t agree to a divorce. A lawyer in this case can ensure that you follow the letter of the law in your area while keeping your best interests in mind. Remember, that a divorce can have a long windfall of consequences and an attorney will help you to explore all of them beforehand.
The next step is to leave. There are no laws that require married couples to live with one another. In many cases, when one person wants a divorce but the other doesn”t, domestic violence, constant fighting and unpleasant living conditions can result. The best thing for your safety and for your best interests is to leave the premises yourself (rather than asking your spouse to leave) so you have the space and time to think about how you are going to handle things. Leaving the situation also sends a message that you are serious about your desire for a divorce.
Once you have left, it is important that you protect any marital assets shared between the two of you. It is not uncommon for the jilted partner to make financial decisions, sell things of value or displace common interests as a way to ‘get you back’ for hurting them. Many courts will put orders in place that make it illegal for your spouse to make any big decisions until the divorce is finalized.
You also should seek to file your divorce petition or proceedings as quickly as possible. Even though your spouse doesn’t agree with your decision to divorce, the truth is that he or she cannot stop you for filing a petition. There are several ways to petition for divorce and the methods likely vary depending upon where you live. Some of the most common are to serve your partner in person (or have them served) with divorce papers, by registered mail or to insert an ad in your local papers legal department. After a certain amount of days if your partner does not file a return to the divorce proceedings you will be able to pursue an ‘uncontested divorce.’
If your spouse does answer the petition, chances are high that the two of you will end up in court and have all matters surrounding the divorce answered by a judge. This process can take a long time often several years to be resolved in court. Not only is it expensive and time consuming, but it can be emotionally challenging as well.
The best possible route that you can take is to try and talk to your partner honestly about why you are unhappy with the marriage. You might want to try remediation by an uninvolved third party as well to help keep the lines of communication between you and your spouse clear and concise as well. Taking steps to help your spouse understand your feelings and your reasons for wanting a divorce can often times help them with the realization that the marriage is over. The best possible scenario for a married couple seeking a divorce is to find a way to work out the details amicably, void of angry and/or hurt emotions so that both of you can move forward in your life in the best way possible. It may not always be possible, but it should always be your goal when petitioning for divorce.