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Can I Get a Divorce If My Spouse Doesn’t Want One?

Not all divorces are mutual. Many situations involve one spouse who wants a divorce, and the other who fights the process from the beginning. If you are the spouse filing for divorce but your spouse does not want one, you have options. You do not need your spouse’s permission or cooperation to complete the divorce process. However, your divorce may become more difficult and complex without your spouse’s cooperation. If your spouse does not want a divorce, hire a Fort Mill divorce lawyer to represent you during divorce negotiations.

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce in Fort Mill

You can have one of two types of divorce cases in South Carolina: contested or uncontested. An uncontested divorce is simpler, easier, and typically not as time-consuming as a contested divorce. An uncontested divorce means the couple agrees on the terms of the divorce. They agree on child custody, support payments, property division, and other major factors. The divorce can proceed without a trial, and without a judge making decisions for the divorcing couple.

An uncontested divorce must have both spouses’ signatures and cooperation to work unless the other spouse does not respond at all to the divorce summons. If your spouse ignored the divorce paperwork you sent to him or her and missed the 30-day deadline to answer, you can proceed with an uncontested divorce – whether or not your spouse wants to dissolve the marriage. Lack of a response within the deadline means your spouse forfeits the right to contest any of your terms. In other words, you can proceed with the divorce as you see fit.

If your spouse decides to fight the divorce, however, you will have a contested divorce case. A contested divorce means your spouse responds to the divorce summons with objections to one or more of its terms. You and your spouse will then need to go to trial for a judge to decide on the factors of the divorce case. You will have 90 days after submitting your initial divorce paperwork to request a hearing on fault-based grounds or 365 days on no-fault grounds.

How to Get a Divorce if Your Spouse Does Not Want One

It is important to follow the correct legal procedure if you want a divorce but your spouse does not. Otherwise, a judge may deny your request and you will have to start again from the beginning. Although your spouse cannot stop the divorce process, he or she can make it more complicated. Follow a few steps, if possible, to make your divorce as easy and stress-free as you can.

  1. Decide whether to proceed with a fault or no-fault divorce. Most divorce cases are no-fault, meaning neither spouse must prove the other’s fault for the breakup. Citing something such as irreconcilable differences can lead to a no-fault divorce. It is generally more difficult for a spouse to contest the no-fault grounds for divorce since you are not asserting his or her fault.
  2. Properly serve your spouse the paperwork. A possible argument against the divorce could be that your spouse never received a copy of the initial divorce petition. Make sure to research and follow all the rules for serving your spouse in South Carolina.
  3. Wait the 30 days. Your spouse will have 30 days to file a response. He or she can either decide to contest the divorce or agree to its terms. If your spouse misses the deadline, the divorce case will proceed uncontested.

Call your local family court and discuss how to move forward with a divorce case if your spouse ignores the petition. If your spouse answers the petition and wants to make the divorce as difficult as possible for you, hire a lawyer. Getting a divorce when one spouse does not want one can make matters complicated. A divorce attorney can protect your rights and facilitate a faster, smoother process.