Our Divorce Lawyer Shares: What Happens if Your Spouse Won’t Sign the Papers?

Divorce is a relatively straightforward process in Australia. However, there are occasions where one spouse refuses to sign the papers. If you are about to enter the divorce process but worry that your ex-partner will be unwilling to acknowledge the separation, you may need to speak to a divorce lawyer.

At Pullos, our team of experienced lawyers can advise on the regulations surrounding a divorce. Our divorce lawyer shares some helpful advice if your spouse refuses to sign the divorce papers.

Filing For a Divorce in Queensland

According to the Family Law Act 1975, a divorce order is based “on the ground that the marriage has broken down irretrievably”. The proof required to demonstrate irretrievable breakdown includes:

1. The court is satisfied that the parties are separated and have lived separately for a continuous period of no less than 12 months; and
2. The unlikelihood of resuming cohabitation.

Either party can file an Application for Divorce. A divorce lawyer can help you prepare this documentation.

If you filed a sole application, you will be required to serve the application on your spouse.

Service is the delivery of the court documents to a party after they have been filed. This ensures that all parties have received the documents filed with the Court, and are aware of the pending divorce application involving them.  If you filed a joint application, you will not need to serve your spouse with the papers.

You will need to arrange for certain documents to be served on your spouse either by post or by hand. Anyone over the age of 18, excluding the married couple, can serve the divorce papers. More information on serving papers can be found here on the Family Court of Australia website.

Once the divorce papers are served, the spouse who receives the papers and wishes to oppose the divorce can file a Response to Divorce. You can also file a Response to Divorce if you want the divorce granted, but you disagree with facts listed in the Application for Divorce. Our divorce lawyer points out that fact errors may include dates of birth or incorrect details regarding children.

The Spouse Opposes the Divorce

Opposing a divorce is very limited if the court is satisfied that the marriage has broken down irretrievably and the parties have been separated for a minimum of 12 months. The Court can grant a divorce order, even if the spouse refuses to sign any documents. However, it still must be proven that the spouse was served the Application for Divorce by completing an Affidavit. Our divorce lawyer advises that you must fill in this form correctly, or risk having to serve the spouse again.

If a spouse has filed a Response to Divorce, they must attend a hearing to explain why the application should be dismissed. A divorce lawyer at Pullos can attend the hearing with you. If the responding spouse does not attend the hearing, the Court may finalise the divorce application in their absence. Otherwise, the spouse may ask the Court to appear by telephone.

While a spouse can refuse to sign the divorce papers, it is highly likely that the divorce will still take place. However, some situations could delay the divorce. For instance, if the service of the application cannot be proved, the Court can either delay or cancel the Application for Divorce. The Court can also delay the case if there is insufficient information provided in the application such as inadequate proof that the married couple has been separated for a minimum of 12 months.

Use a Divorce Lawyer to Assist You With Your Divorce

At Pullos, we have over 30 years’ experience dealing with divorce, spousal maintenance and international family law. If you wish to hire a divorce lawyer to help you with either your application or response, get in touch via email, or on (07) 5526 3646.