What Are Your Legal Options When a Spouse Refuses to Sign Divorce Papers?


It has been recently publicized that the impending divorce of celebrities Nick Cannon and Mariah Carey is reportedly on hold due to Mr. Cannon's refusal to sign divorce papers. The TV personality filed for divorce from his wife in 2014, but, since then, has not signed the papers that would end the marriage. Ms. Carey is reportedly frustrated with the situation which may stall her plans to be wed to current fiancé James Pecker this summer. There are many reasons as to why a spouse would refuse to sign divorce papers to end a marriage, including hesitation to end the marriage, lack of interest in partaking in the divorce process, or to make his or her spouse upset. However, in either regard, whether the divorce papers are signed or not, an individual cannot legally prevent his or her spouse from obtaining a divorce.


The law requires that an individual filing for divorce must “serve,” or notify, his or her spouse about the divorce. Divorce papers are typically served to a spouse through certified mail within 120 days of filing for the divorce and she or he is allocated 30 days to respond. On August 15, 2010, then-Governor David Paterson signed no-fault divorce into law for New York. No-fault statute allows for individuals to petition for legal divorce based on “irreconcilable differences” rather than fault-based grounds. Although seeking legal separation is not necessary, no-fault statutes require a Separation Agreement, an agreement for the couple to live apart for a certain length of time.


If the divorce was properly served, the requisite amount of time was allotted for a response, the filing spouse follows the letter of the law and shows up for court hearings and the other spouse does not defend against the divorce complaint, the filing spouse may consult a divorce attorney to enter a default proceeding. A default divorce is based on the filing spouse's terms for division, including the terms of property, child support and custody agreement. In New York, if a default divorce is filed promptly, the divorce process could be conceivably completed within three months.


The team of experienced New York divorce lawyers at Larry McCord and Associates, LLC assists clients in all aspects of contested and uncontested divorce. Please contact Larry McCord and Associates, LLC at (631) 643-3084 to learn more about our services and approach to family law.


 

 

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