Divorce is a familiar topic. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon these days and people move ahead with their lives. What is discussed far less frequently is what happens when one party wants a divorce while the other wishes to remain married. Can a person refuse to get divorced in Florida?
Refusal to Divorce
In the State of Florida, one spouse cannot simply refuse to divorce. The courts do not require the consent of both parties.
The Florida courts will process a divorce with only one party signing the divorce petition. However, it will take longer and be more frustrating, which is perhaps one of the reasons for the refusal in the first place.
What to Do When You Can’t Refuse the Divorce?
What are the options for a married person who wishes to remain married and does not want a divorce? Florida courts do permit a counterclaim. Such a claim may ask the court to mandate therapy to save the marriage. If the couple has children, the court is very likely to grant such a request.
Can You Ignore a Filing for Divorce?
It may be tempting, but it is a bad idea to simply ignore your spouse’s divorce filing. Ignoring reality will not stop the process. A divorce petition is a legal filing with the court and should not be ignored, as the court will proceed regardless of your actions or inactions. The most you will accomplish is to create a delay. When legal papers have been filed, it is always in your best interest to seek legal advice (which is not the same as agreeing to a divorce) to ensure that your needs and rights are protected. Everyone deserves fairness, especially when it involves assets and children.
A Contested Divorce
A contested divorce happens when one party (the Respondent) does not agree to the terms of the filings by the person initiating the split (the Petitioner). These disputed terms and issues may involve the division of assets, child custody, or spousal support.
The Respondent must make his or her objections clear to the court. The most logical way to do that is to not ignore the divorce proceedings but to file an answer to the initial petition and make your own voice heard. Your response will make it clear that you are contesting the divorced.
An Uncontested Divorce
If the Respondent agrees to all the conditions or simply won’t respond, the divorce becomes an uncontested divorce. Such agreement or non-response means the Responder loses the right to negotiate any issues and is accepting the divorce petition as presented. This may bring about a loss of rights and should be discussed with an attorney.
Reasons for Signing Divorce Papers
Even a brief marriage without noticeable assets or children can turn complicated by issues such as property division and/or alimony as the Petitioner may seek terms favorable to him or her only instead of to both parties. When there are assets or children involved, a response becomes even more critical.
A Respondent usually has 30 days to answer a divorce petition. If there is no answer, the judge may grant a default divorce, granting the Petitioner what he or she has requested.
Options in the Event of Abandonment
Divorce can get messy, and outright abandonment can be even worse. Even if the abandoned party does not desire a divorce, he or she can ensure the family’s financial security by requesting child and spousal support without filing a divorce petition. Said party can also file a separation agreement, or postnuptial agreement, which addresses property division and child custody and support. The judge will address these issues as if it were a filing for divorce – with the difference that you will not be able to remarry.
There may be reasons for a legal separation instead of a legal divorce. A couple, or one of the parties involved, may simply not be prepared for that final severing of ties. There may also be religious reasons involved. A third, and perhaps practical, reason for opting against a divorce is to help the other spouse maintain insurance and other legal benefits.
Whether you agree with a divorce or not, you will be unable to prevent it in the State of Florida. The best you can do is slow it down and/or file a counterclaim requesting marriage counseling.
Without any response, the Petitioner’s filing will move ahead without any input from you. This leaves you without a voice in your own divorce. It may be best to discuss this with a divorce attorney to protect your interests and rights before the court finalizes any decision.
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.
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