If a spouse refuses to sign divorce papers, it can make an already stressful process seem more overwhelming. Any divorce, even uncontested divorces, comes with stressors. If your spouse contests the divorce, you enter into a contested divorce. Contested divorces are lengthy and expensive. However, if your spouse refuses to respond to divorce papers, or avoids being served them at all, you may be able to get a default divorce.

When your spouse refuses to respond to or acknowledge divorce papers, there can be many reasons for this. Sometimes, they may believe that this will prevent the divorce altogether. Other times, they may think that they can draw out the process and complicate it.

What to Do If Your Spouse Won’t Sign Divorce Papers

Try to talk with your spouse about why they don’t want to respond to or sign the divorce papers. However, this isn’t an option for every marriage. Spouses may be avoidant, overly argumentative, or even abusive. In these cases, prioritize your own well-being.

However, if you can talk to your spouse, it’s useful to determine their reasoning. Maybe they have financial concerns or other worries about divorce. You may be able to work together on a divorce agreement that addresses these concerns. Determine how you could negotiate certain issues and whether divorce mediation is the right option for you.

A spouse who refuses to sign papers will not prevent a divorce from occurring. Instead, they simply forfeit their right to have a say in the divorce proceedings. If your spouse won’t sign divorce papers or respond to the petition, you can request a default divorce.

The Process of an Oklahoma Divorce

In Oklahoma, you can file for a no-fault divorce under the reason of incompatibility, also called irreconcilable differences. If you and your spouse don’t agree to get a divorce together, you must serve the divorce papers and summons to your spouse. This can be done by having a process server personally bring the papers to your spouse.

If your spouse avoids being served papers, the court may allow you to serve papers through publication. To serve papers through publication, you must show the court that you have made a reasonable effort to serve the papers in person.

Once papers have been considered officially served through one of these methods, your spouse has 20 days to file a response. A response includes your spouse’s requests for divorce, similar to how your divorce petition made requests. These cover issues such as division of property, alimony, child custody, and child support. If no response is filed in that time, you can request a default divorce judgment.

Default Proceedings

Once you’ve requested a default divorce, a hearing is set, and papers for this hearing are served to your spouse. This provides them with one more chance to respond to the divorce proceedings.

If your spouse does not appear at the hearing, the judge overseeing your case will enter a default judgment. This default judgment will grant you what you asked for in your initial divorce petition, and your spouse will have no say in the finalized divorce.

If your spouse does appear at the default hearing, the judge is unlikely to grant the default divorce. The judge will usually order a continuance of the divorce and give your spouse time to file response papers. Then, your divorce will continue as if your spouse had filed a response to begin with, and it may become a contested divorce.

Motion to Vacate a Default Divorce

In Oklahoma, the court doesn’t prefer default decisions. If the other spouse files a motion to vacate a default divorce and has a good reason, the court will generally grant it. The court prefers that both parties have a say in a divorce, particularly when children are involved. Then, the parties can proceed with a standard divorce. There is no guarantee that a court will grant a motion to vacate. As a respondent spouse, it’s in your interests to file a response prior to a default judgment being made.


Q: What Happens If You Don’t Respond to Divorce Papers in Oklahoma?

A: If you don’t sign or respond to divorce papers within 20 days of being served, your spouse can request a default divorce judgment from the court. A default judgment, if it is granted, means that you will have no say in issues such as property division, custody, alimony, and child support. Failing to respond to divorce papers will not prevent or complicate the divorce; it will only put you at a severe disadvantage.

Q: What Is Considered Spousal Abandonment in Oklahoma?

A: Spousal abandonment is when one spouse leaves the marriage without reason and without informing them. This may be grounds for divorce in Oklahoma if one spouse abandons the other for at least 1 year. This is only for fault-based divorces. In Oklahoma, you can also file for a no-fault divorce under the reason of incompatibility.

Q: How Long Does My Spouse Have to Respond to Divorce Papers in Oklahoma?

A: In Oklahoma, once you have served your spouse the divorce petition and summons, they have 20 days to respond. If your spouse does not respond in that time, you can request a default divorce. In most cases, papers must be served by a process server personally giving your spouse papers. However, if a spouse is avoiding being served, and you have made a reasonable effort, the court may grant you the ability to serve through publication.

Q: Can You Get a Divorce Without the Other Person Signing in Oklahoma?

A: Yes, you can get a divorce if the other person will not sign the divorce papers. In that case, you will likely begin the process of a contested divorce, conducted through litigation. If your spouse will not sign the papers, and will also not respond to the divorce petition and summons, you may be able to get a default divorce.

Consult With Qualified Tulsa Divorce Attorneys

Going through any divorce can be upsetting. An attorney can help you determine if a default divorce is the ideal route for you and protect your interests during the process. If your spouse is not cooperating with a divorce, contact Stange Law Firm today.