What can I do if my spouse won't sign the divorce papers?

Published 31 Jan 2019

Getting a divorce can be an uncomfortable and stressful process for all involved, even when things are amicable. But what can you do if your spouse doesn't want a divorce and won't sign the papers?

What can you do if your spouse won't sign the divorce papers?

With the way the law functions in Australia, it doesn't matter if your spouse won't sign the divorce papers. Provided the grounds for divorce are met, a sole application can be made. There are, however, certain steps you need to follow that differ from making a joint application.

The requirements for divorce in Australia

According to the Family Law Act 1975, getting a divorce requires that the marriage has broken down irretrievably and that there's no reasonable likelihood you and your spouse will get back together. You and your spouse need to have been separated for at least 12 months (you can still live together for this time, so long as you are not a couple).

Once the separation requirements have been met, you can fill out the divorce application. If your spouse is unwilling to cooperate, you can fill out their information as best you can and put 'don't know' in the empty spaces.

You then need to serve the divorce documents to your spouse either in hand or by post. This must be done at least 28 days before the hearing if your spouse is in Australia, or at least 42 days before if they're overseas. Should attempts to find your spouse prove unsuccessful, and you've exhausted all avenues to locate them, it's possible to apply to the court for dispensation from service.

Once the application has been served, your spouse has the opportunity to file a formal response. In it, they may choose to outline their reasons why they oppose the divorce; for example, that you have not been separated for 12 months or that there are extenuating circumstances that make a divorce inappropriate.

One thing to remember is that for a divorce to proceed, the court must be satisfied proper arrangements for children under 18 have been made. If you are attempting divorce with a sole application, and you have children of that age, you will need to have arrangements made before the hearing.

If you need assistance in conducting your divorce, get in touch with the team at Malouf Solicitors today.

Please call us on 02 8833 2000 to speak with a lawyer

I remain extremely grateful for Maloufs legal representation related to my financial management of the estate of my brother and for your continuing help and advice in this matter. As an aside, I always recommend Maloufs to my friends and family members who are seeking the best legal representation - only last week, I strongly advised a close family friend that their best interests would be served by arranging an appointment at your Parramatta offices.
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