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If a spouse is served divorce papers and won't sign, what's the next step?

Brookhaven, MS |

A friend of mine left his wife Nov. 17, 2012 and served her with divorce papers-she refuses to sign and his attorney isn't helping in this issue-only saying the "ball is in her court" and to give her time. What's the point in hiring an attorney ; which he has paid him in full, if he seems to be working on his spouse's behalf?

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Attorney answers 3


Without knowing more details, it's difficult to answer your question - I can't tell what grounds are alleged to support a divorce action or what the situation is. Without knowing that, no one can say whether the attorney is doing a good job or not. In any event, if there were grounds alleged for the divorce the case can be set for trial and moved forward. As a practical matter, the wife will be able to get time to get her own attorney and fight the divorce. Having a divorce case pending since November of last year does not sound all that unusual. If your friend does not understand what's going on with his case, he should sit down with his attorney for a full discussion about what's going on and why it's proceeding the way it is.

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I agree with Mr. Davis's response. By saying that the wife "refuses to sign" indicates to me that he is attempting to get her to agree to an irreconcilable differences (i.e. "no fault") divorce. If she doesn't agree, and if husband does not have fault grounds for divorce that he can prove, there may be nothing the attorney can do for the husband.

The husband needs to contact his lawyer, schedule an appointment, and find out what his other alternatives are.

No attorney-client relationship has been formed by this answer. The answer given herein should not be your only inquiry into the matter or issue. You should schedule an appointment and seek the advice of an attorney to fully explain the facts so that the attorney can make an informed analysis and recommendation concerning your problem and advise you of all of your rights.


If you have served someone with "Irreconcilable Differences" divorce papers, then they have no obligation to sign them. A divorce based upon Irreconcilable Differences must be agreed to by both parties. If you have served her with "Fault Based" papers, she is not required to file an answer, but must show up at the time and date set for the hearing and defend herself, or you will be able to obtain a divorce by testifying and having a cooberating witness to testify as well.