You may have spent months or longer trying to work on your marriage or build up the courage to talk to your spouse about the situation. You’ve been unhappy for years or have known that your spouse isn’t faithful to you.
Now, you’re finally ready to make a change. However, when you sit down to talk about divorce, your spouse tells you no. They insist that they will not allow a divorce and that they intend to stay married to you. Can your spouse really deny you a divorce in modern Texas?
Only one spouse needs to want a divorce
Marriage requires the consent of both parties. When one spouse no longer wants to stay married, the other cannot force them to remain in the relationship.
Although your spouse can tell you that they don’t want to divorce, they cannot compel you to remain legally married if you follow the proper steps. What should you do when your spouse tells you you can’t divorce them?
Take steps to protect yourself if necessary
If you have experienced physical or emotional abuse from your spouse, that misconduct may escalate now that you have brought up divorce. On the other hand, their behavior may temporarily improve, only to get worse later when they feel more secure in the relationship again.
You may need to make arrangements to leave or even to secure a temporary protective order if you feel worried about your safety or the safety of your children.
Take the initiative to file the paperwork
If your spouse has already said that they don’t want to cooperate with you and would prefer to deny you a divorce, don’t try to negotiate on the matter. The sooner you retain an attorney and file the necessary paperwork to initiate divorce proceedings, the sooner you will be able to leave your marriage.
Once you file paperwork with the court and serve your spouse, the countdown begins. They have to respond to your filing in a timely manner. They cannot prevent the divorce proceedings, but they can challenge your suggested terms for child custody and property definition.
The 3 ways forward after you file
If your spouse responds and approves of the terms you suggested, you will move forward with an uncontested divorce. If they respond and challenge the terms you set, it will be a litigated or contested divorce. If they ignore your paperwork entirely, the result will be a divorce by default, meaning the courts will likely grant the terms you requested when you filed.
Although your spouse of refusal might frighten or frustrate you now, their attitude could benefit you if it leads to a divorce by default. Understanding how the divorce process works in Texas can make filing for divorce a little easier.