What To Do When Your Spouse Refuses To Get Divorced?

Legal Lotus - Family and Trial Attorneys

When a marriage is no longer working, one partner usually wants out before the other. He or she has accepted that they have too many differences, while the other partner is resisting the idea. Most couples don’t arrive at this decision simultaneously. The resistance can be due to genuinely wanting to keep the marriage together, or it can turn into a power struggle for control over the entire process. Resistant partners may not want to accept what they consider a rejection. Most of them will eventually come around, even if only reluctantly.

The best action a partner desirous of a divorce can take is to speak with a divorce attorney.

When You Are Unhappy In Your Marriage

If your marriage isn’t working, your best first step is to discuss your unhappiness with your spouse – without accusations or finger-pointing.  Prior to asking for a divorce, it can be a good idea to suggest counseling. This can help your spouse learn the extent and reason for your unhappiness with a neutral party present. During counseling, explain you have exhausted all options and that you see divorce as the only solution.

When The Spouse Won’t Agree To A Divorce

Some spouses can be very resistant to even discussing the idea of a divorce. He or she may be terrified at the idea of being alone or ashamed of having failed at marriage. Or the spouse may have no idea that anything is wrong and unwilling to consider the facts. In these cases, it can come down to a struggle over power. In the State of Florida, one spouse cannot prevent the other from filing for a divorce. However, he or she can draw out a difficult situation and prolong it ad nauseam.

A Divorce Power Struggle

Partners who wish to thwart a divorce action can become very passive-aggressive. They make promises, such as to produce financial information, but manage to become “too busy” to do so. They will get around to it “eventually.” Some partners have gone so far as to threatened to harm themselves, placing the blame and emotional burden solely on your shoulders.

One can feel sympathy for someone whose world is in danger of collapsing. The other spouse is left feeling guilty, frustrated, and angry. As the party who wants the divorce, don’t hesitate to suggest professional counseling. It will slow down the divorce, but it can help your partner accept reality.

Some spouses may agree to counseling hoping to change your mind. When they see that tactic isn’t working, they can become filled with rage and desire for vengeance. If there is even the slightest danger of physical violence, the counselor (or the authorities) needs to be made aware immediately.

How To Ask For A Divorce

Whether you are in the company of a counselor or in the privacy of your home, the possibility of divorce can raise an array of unpleasant emotions, as described above. When the subject is first introduced, it should be done gently, kindly, and as non-accusatory as possible. At the same time, you need to be firm. If you waver, your spouse will pounce on such a hesitation.

If your decision to ask for a divorce is based on spousal abuse, ensure that you and the children have a plan to remain safe. An abusive spouse who has been called out can act very unpredictably. Speak with an attorney and/or a counselor before you broach the subject and have a place to go if you sense approaching violence.


If you and your spouse aren’t agreeing on the details of the divorce, ask your attorney to recommend a mediator. Mediation is a non-adversarial process and may help resolve a few major issues between the two of you.

Prepare for Emotional Upheaval

Even if you are the one who initiated the divorce, it will be difficult and emotional. Friend, family, and even your children may view you as the homewrecker while your spouse can bask in the role of innocent victim. He or she will minimize whatever unhappiness they brought to the relationship. It’s not their fault. The fault lies with you.

While this is absolutely unfair, it is unfortunately normal. That is the reason you should approach a divorce with absolute certainty. Seek comfort with friends that support you and talk to a therapist. Your decision was a difficult one. Be proud of yourself for having made it.

Things To Do To Help A Reluctant Spouse

We have already discussed the advisability of first discussing your unhappiness before moving on to the subject of divorce. There are other things you can do to make the situation easier for your spouse and encourage cooperation.

  1. Engage a professional marriage counselor. A neutral third party will be useful in helping both of you handle the whirlwind of emotions that will surface.
  2. Be kind. This is not the time to harp on your partner’s faults. While discussing your own unhappiness, offer kindness, respect, and support. Make it clear that you understand his or her pain.  
  3. Allow for a free discussion. This isn’t the time for a “he said, she said” situation. If your spouse makes accusations against you, don’t get defensive. Be accepting.
  4. If your spouse is blindsided by your desire for a divorce, don’t expect immediate agreement. This will require respect for his or her feelings and time.


A divorce is never easy. It can turn into an emotional train wreck if your partner wants to remain married. Be patient and respectful of his or her feelings. But remain firm in your desire for a divorce. Seek the help of a counselor and an attorney to move the divorce process along.

The legal process can get difficult, which is why we always recommend that you seek the assistance of counsel; or at least have a consultation. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today to review the issues of your case, the legal options you may have, and certain rights that pertain to your unique situation.

Have more questions? Let us know by sending an email to: questions@legallotus.legal and we will do our best to develop content to provide you with direction and insight!

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