What to do if my daughter’s husband refuses to sign divorce papers?

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What to do if my daughter’s husband refuses to sign divorce papers?

How can she be freed from this union? They have not lived together for about a year. She has paid all she can afford to her attorney

Asked on December 16, 2012 under Family Law, Texas

Answers:

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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Many spouses think they can dodge a divorce by simply not signing the papers.  In Texas, even though agreements are preferred, they are not required.  If one spouse refuses to sign an agreement then the other spouse can request a final trial before the court or before a jury. If your daughter has an attorney, then she her better route would be to get her attorney to set her case for a final hearing before the judge.  Generally, jury trials are more expensive than a trial before the court.  But your daughter doesn't need a jury trial-- she just needs to get in front of a judge so the judge can hear her proposal and approve it (which will be shorter and cheaper than a jury trial).  If he shows for the hearing, he can sign the decree and they can convert the "trial" into a prove up-- which takes about ten minutes.  If he does not show-up, she can proceed and get a default judgment after she presents her testimony-- which again will run about 10-20 minutes.  Sometimes the mere setting of a case for a final hearing is sufficient catalyst to get the other side to sign the final decree.  She can also request that her attorney seek attorney's fees to be awarded to her because she had to request and go through with a final hearing. 

If her attorney withdraws for non-payment, she can still use the same options discussed above.  However, when she visits with the court coordinator to get her hearing date, she needs to make sure the coordinator understands it's a final "trial before the court."  Trials before juries usually require and extra fee.  Also, any final hearings require more advance notice to the other side.  In Texas, she would be required to give her ex- at least 45 days notice of the final hearing.  Most people do this via certified mail so that they will have proof of service later. 


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