Can My Spouse Prevent Me from Getting a Divorce?
Dec. 29, 2021
The decision to end a marriage is often a mutual decision; however, it can also be a very one-sided desire. One spouse may have his/her foot out the door already while the other spouse is convinced the marriage can be saved. If you are the spouse with your foot out the door, you may be worried about your ability to even get a divorce. Fort Worth
divorce attorney Jon Boyd answers one of his most frequently asked questions: “Can my spouse prevent me from getting a divorce?”
The Decision to Divorce
Just as every marriage begins with a unique and highly personal love story, the end of marriage is equally unique and personal. Sometimes a couple slowly grows apart after decades of marriage. They wake up one day and both realize they no longer want to be married to each other. Other marriages end after a very short period of matrimony when the parties realize they made a mistake and amicably decide to go their separate ways. While these divorces may still encounter bumps along the way, they tend to be less volatile then other divorces. For example, when one spouse is adamant that the marriage is over, but the other spouse is unwilling to accept the end of the marriage, the ensuing divorce process is likely to be contentious. That does not mean, however, that the divorce can be prevented.
Consent Is Not Required
While both parties must consent to marry, the same is not true for ending the marriage. Historically, a party seeking a divorce had to prove that the other party did something wrong. In legal terms, these were known as “fault grounds” on which a divorce could be granted. The party petitioning for divorce had to prove one of the available fault grounds to get a divorce. Although many states have completely abolished fault grounds, Texas still allows a petitioner to allege four fault grounds in a divorce: adultery, cruelty, felony conviction, and abandonment. Texas also recognizes three non-fault grounds, including insupportability, living apart, and confinement in a mental hospital.
“Insupportability” is the simplest grounds on which a party can petition for divorce, only requiring the petitioner to show that the marriage has become so insupportable due to conflict, that the conflict destroys the marriage and that there is no reasonable expectation that the parties are getting back together. Your spouse is not required to agree to this (or any other grounds) under which you request a divorce.
What About Signing the Papers?
Every good movie that involves a divorce has a scene in where one party (finally) signs the divorce papers. While this makes for great cinema, it is a less than accurate portrayal of the divorce process. If you and your spouse reach a mutually agreed upon Marital Settlement Agreement, it can speed up the divorce process and makes things much easier. In that case, you will both need to sign “the papers” to indicate your agreement to the terms of the divorce. In a contested divorce, however, it is not necessary for anyone to sign “the papers.” When it becomes apparent that the parties cannot reach an out of court settlement, the court may order the parties to attend mediation to avoid a trial. If mediation fails to work, however, a trial will be necessary. In that case, the court listens to the evidence presented and decides if the petitioner should be granted a divorce. If you listed “insupportability” as your grounds, it essentially means you need to convince the court that you are no longer in love with your spouse and/or that you can no longer tolerate living with him/her. While your spouse can certainly disagree with your contentions, courts are not inclined to force a spouse to remain in a marriage they don’t want to be in.
Ultimately, your divorce will be both less costly and less time consuming if your spouse does agree to the divorce; however, your spouse cannot prevent you from getting a divorce.
Contact a Fort Worth Divorce Attorney
If you are contemplating divorce, contact an experienced Fort Worth divorce attorney at Boyd Family Law to schedule your appointment today.