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How can you get a divorce in Florida if your spouse refuses to sign and you have minor children together?

West Palm Beach, FL |

My (needs to be) ex-wife refuses to sign the divorce papers. I have tried to talk to her and she avoids me. We have been separated for the last 3 years. Our children are 4 and 6 years old. We share visitation and I pay for most of the bills to support the household.

Attorney Answers 3


  1. Yes, Florida is a no-fault state and only one of the parties needs to indicate that the marriage is "irretrievably broken." A spouse does not have to sign the divorce (dissolution of marriage) papers for you to proceed in filing or obtaining a divorce. If you were trying to get an agreement signed and the spouse refuses to sign the same, you will need to schedule a final hearing before the Court to obtain the final divorce. Or, if you have not initiated your dissolution of marriage proceedings, you can file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage without your spouse's signature and have her served by a process server. If your spouse refuses to respond to the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage the Court can enter a "default" against her for failing to file a responsive document.

    Simply put, the Florida Courts can grant a dissolution of marriage with or without your spouse's consent. The Court can and will determine the timesharing schedule (aka visitation) that is to take place between you, your spouse, and your children as well as the child support monies which needs to be paid (if any) between the spouses.

    The information provided herein is for general information purposes only. Questions answered herein should not be taken as legal advice, are not intended to create and do not establish an attorney-client relationship between the person posing the question, persons reading the post, and/or the attorney providing the response.


  2. Well, your first problem seems to be the fact that you are under the belief that your wife needs to 'sign' the papers. Florida is a no-fault State, so if you file for a divorce and have her properly served then her obligation is to 'respond' not 'sign.' If she fails to respond properly, you can default her and thereby win your case by virtue of her failure to respond properly to court papers. Have you spoken with an attorney over is West Palm Beach? I suspect the clerk of court would have self-help information in the event that you cannot afford an attorney. Good luck!

    This response does not create an attorney-client relationship. Unless you are already a client of the Sosa Law Office, P.A., pursuant to an executed employment agreement, you should not use, interpret, or rely on this response as legal advice or opinion. Do not act on any information in this response without seeking legal advice. Melissa Sosa, Esq. melissa@sosalawoffice.com 813-681-5640.


  3. The case is either a contested divorce (everyone agrees) or an uncontested divorce (wherein the parties do not agree). Uncontested divorces are quicker and cheaper because there is no fighting. Contested divorces can be prolonged and expensive.

    If your spouse refuses to sign a settlement agreement, I would advise that you seek a court order to require attendance at mediation in the hope of convincing her that a prolonged divorce does not serve her interests or the children's interest. What's the hold up? The amount of child support? Alimony? Division of property? Certain things can be mediated.

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