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Can just one spouse file for divorce?

 Posted on May 01, 2020 in Divorce

If you want to get divorced and your spouse does not, do you need to get them to agree to the split before you file? With marriage, you both have to agree and sign the marriage contract together. Is that how it works with divorce?

It’s not. Thanks to the "no-fault" divorce laws, only one person has to file. In fact, some have argued that, if it feels like divorce is imminent, it is better to file before your spouse does. That sometimes gives one spouse a tactical advantage by having a plan and obliging the other spouse to either agree or propose a viable alternative.

In short, if you want a divorce, you can divorce your spouse. It does not matter if they also want a divorce or if they want to stay together. You’re free to listen to them if you want — they may suggest trying counseling before splitting up, for instance — but you're under no obligation to stay in an unhappy marriage. You can simply go file for divorce on your own and move through the process as you see fit.

In fact, even if your spouse refuses to cooperate or will not respond to the divorce papers, you can still get a divorce. You do have to give them a chance to respond, as they may want to contest some of the decisions in court, but the court will just rule that it is an uncontested divorce if they ignore it. They can grant you the end of the marriage even when your spouse never comes to court.

You have a lot of personal freedom in the United States. Divorce is an example of that. It’s your decision. Make sure you know what steps you need to take.

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