What if my Spouse won’t Cooperate in a California Divorce?

People are confused about what to do when a spouse refuses to cooperate in a California divorce.  This comes from a misunderstanding of the role of the spouse or the respondent in the divorce.  In California, a divorce can proceed through the courts and can be finalized even if the spouse refuses to sign any papers.  In fact, the spouse does not need to sign papers at all!

Here’s how it works:

  1. Petitioner files for divorce
  2. Petitioner serves spouse–if spouse refuses to sign proof of service or does not appear to be cooperative, spouse can be served by someone over the age of 18 (not a child of the marriage) or by a process server; in this case the person who serves, signs and dates the Proof of Service; the spouse simply receives the paperwork
  3. Spouse may not wish to respond or do anything with regard to the papers served; if this occurs and the 30 days to respond have passed, the petitioner can then file  ‘default’ paperwork with the courts
  4. If there are issues that need to be resolved, the petitioner (not the respondent) will go before the judge and he/she will usually make a decision based on what is reasonable
  5. If there are no issues to be resolved, the petitioner may not have to appear in court at all; the divorce would be finalized without an appearance

Default divorces are very common in California.  It is one way that divorces are finalized when the respondent does not wish to agree or dispute.  If the petitioner goes to court, he/she does not require an attorney because the opposing party is not in the courtroom.

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  1. richardpinn says

    Hi my is richard I started my divorce in 2005 the defendant didn’t respond now it the statute has run out but its still in the system the court said if me and the defendant give a notarized statement stating we both still wish to go forward with the divorce the court will concider it but she won’t respond once again I have sent three certified letters requesting a statement from her she ses she’s going to do it but she keep making excuses wy she hasn’t done it . Plaese help

    • says

      Give us a call @ 1-800-HELP-444 (1-800-435-7444) to discuss. Your spouse does not need to cooperate if she did not Respond when served. If this is the case, it is a ‘default’ divorce. If this is not the case i.e. she responded, then you will need to request a trial date. We can help you…give us a call.
      Thank-you for contacting Legal Action Workshop–THE LAW FIRM THAT OFFERS LOW FLAT FEES!

    • says

      Your spouse does not need to ‘respond’. However, the court does need a proof of service. It sounds like you will need to start the divorce all over again as she is not cooperating. If she does not respond once the 30 day time frame is over, you would need to enter a ‘default’ to finalize the divorce. Please call us at 1-800-HELP-444 (1-800-435-7444) to discuss.

  2. Kelly Mulligan says

    what can you do if your spouse refuses to sign the final divorce settlement when you both waved all financials?

    • Brenda Platt-Drucker says

      This is a good question. Is your spouse refusing to sign the Marital Settlement Agreement or Stipulated Judgment? We would need more information, but generally speaking if he does not wish to sign these documents, you may have to go to trial. If you wish to discuss, please call our offices @ 818-630-5503 Monday to Friday 8:00 am to 8:00 pm.
      Thank-you for contacting Legal Action Workshop–THE LAW FIRM THAT OFFERS LOW FLAT FEES!

  3. Ginger says

    What if my spouse will not present tax documents for our divorce? He is primary and uncooperative… And there is a protective order in place against him.

    • Brenda Platt-Drucker says

      If you can get a copy of a recent tax return, that would be ideal. You can also guess as to what he earns. If you are requesting spousal support and/or child support then he would need to come forward with proof of earnings. It would be best to give us a call @ 1-800-HELP-444 so that we can assess your situation i.e. are you the petitioner, did the respondent respond, are you asking for temporary orders, do you have an attorney, does he have an attorney etc.?
      Thank-you for contacting Legal Action Workshop–THE LAW FIRM THAT OFFERS LOW FLAT FEES!

  4. Ken says

    What if the respondent spouse (actually non responding), has a 401k or SEP IRA or Roth IRA? Will the judge make a judgement on that also? Will I have to subpoena a report on this?
    Thank you.

    • Brenda Platt-Drucker says

      If your spouse has not responded after the 30 day time period then you have a ‘default’ divorce and if you have issues, you will require a ‘default’ hearing before the judge. Your spouse should have been served with an ‘income & expense/assets & debts’ form that he needs to fill out. This would have the information regarding his retirement plan. If he did not fill it out, you can guess as to what is in that (you may look at a recent tax return). You may also call the plan if you have information on it. This is an issue in the divorce & the judge will need to rule on it as well as any other issues.

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