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Spouse refusing to sign divorce papers unless i give up custody of my kids

Manassas, VA |

spouse (separated for two years) refuses to sign divorce papers. current attorney asked me to try one more time to get her to sign. she emailed me back with "sign over your custody of the kids and i'll sign your divorce papers.' my current attorney is out of town and i'm trying to find out if there's any legal ramifications for her response (coercion, blackmail, anything along those lines?) and what i should do with her response.

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Attorney answers 2

Posted

Ask your attorney to put the matter on the docket for a short hearing (less than one day). ALso ask for an award of attorneys fees from your wife. Caving in to her position will most likely have a negative impact on your children's lives as well as your own in trying to effectively parent them. This isn't 'blackmail' as that is defined- it's a way of trying to get you to agree to something that most likely isn't in your children's best interests. There is nothing illegal in her position that she is unwilling to sign 'the divorce papers'- unclear what that means. If you mean that you offered her a Marital and Property Settlement Agreement and she has refused that, that is within her rights. If you mean that she is refusing to sign a Final Decree, after the MPSA has been signed, notarized and offered to the Court, then just a quick confirmatory hearing is all that is needed and should be capable of being scheduled before summer begins in Prince WIlliam Circuit Court. If nothing has been signed or agreed to by her, then you will need to litigate. Make sure that your attorney is a litigator and not just one who does only un-contested divorces.

Legal issues often depend on the specific facts in any given case or situation. Please do NOT utilize the information you receive as either a binding legal opinion in your case, nor presume that I am your counsel because I've answered a question you had. Any legal representation is accomplished by written contract ONLY, signed by each of us.

Asker

Posted

Thank you Susan. Yes, I was referring to either a waiver of trial or final decree when I said "divorce papers." There was a PSA signed several months ago, but nothing else since. What specifically are you referring to having my attorney get put on the docket? My attorney states the clerk of court told him they weren't going to schedule it for an uncontested hearing if she refused to sign the waiver or final decree.

Susan Leslie Fraser

Susan Leslie Fraser

Posted

Since you have the PSA signed, then your attorney can put it on the docket for a CONTESTED hearing to which your spouse can be served notice to attend. You and your witness will appear and testify in open for the evidence required to prove the facts of the case. Since your spouse has signed the PSA, then there are NO other issues remaining in terms of spousal support, equitable distribution, or child custody/visitation/support, correct? Your attorney will have to go to term day to schedule this (which is going to cost you more than it should) and you will have to get the spouse served with the Notice of Hearing, but then it's just a 'contested' hearing where you and your witness will testify as to your having lived separately and apart for the statutorily requisite period of time, and the other required issues. Depending on what the PSA says, you may be able to ask for an award of attorney's fees against your spouse (I now include such a provision regularly in my PSAs just to forestall this type of situation from happening).

Posted

There are not really any ramifications for her remarks other than they may be used for attorney fees if the matter is required to be set for trial in front of a judge. Unfortunately for you, if the case is pending in Prince William County, which I assume it is since you are from Manassas, Virginia, the docket is extremely backed up. Trial dates are currently being scheduled in November/December 2014.

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