Does divorce take effect anyway if the other party does not want to sign and how long does it take?

I have permanent (not conditional) residence and am living in the States. I left my home because of emotional and physical abuse. Now I am living in another state. My husband does not know where I am since I am scared of him and his son’s criminal behavior. If I my husband has just served me with divorce documents via email and I don’t sign because I am demanding a monetary compensation for emotional and physical abuse, will the divorce take effect or my signature is necessary?

Asked on June 13, 2012 under Family Law, Colorado


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You mention that you were served with "divorce documents," but you're not real clear on the type of documents that you received.  If this is your first notice of the lawsuit, then this is not the usual method of service.   However, that does not mean that he won't eventually be able to "perfect" service.  If one party to the divorce is avoiding service, then he can make an application to the court (after showing due diligence) to get an alternative form of service.... and then get a default judgment against you if you don't respond.  If you have already been served, but the divorce documents he sent you are simply proposed final orders, then he will have to get a setting for a final hearing if you can't work out an agreement.  The rules regarding final notice of hearing are less strict than those for service.... so he could eventually email you notice of a final hearing, and if you do not appear, get a default judgment against you.  So... you don't have to sign these documents if you don't want to.  However, it seems like you do want this divorce and you want additional relief from the decree.  To do that, you're going to have to jump into this divorce.  Your best bet would be to hire an attorney in the state where the divorce is filed to see what they can get worked out without you have to return to that state.  If you don't participate, you could loose the right to complain later and get the relief that you need. 

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