Can a spouse ignore a divorce filing to prevent it from moving forward?

On Behalf of | Feb 29, 2024 | Divorce Law |

Couples preparing for divorce may disagree about many key details related to their marriage and its end. In some cases, they may not even agree about the need for a divorce. Sometimes, one spouse is ready to end a marriage, while the other seemingly hopes to work through the challenges or at least remain married.

If someone cannot convince their spouse that divorce is necessary, they may decide to move forward with the filing on their own. They then typically wait for their spouse to respond. People have an opportunity to protest the proposed terms when one spouse suggests divorce.

Can a spouse hoping to avoid divorce prevent divorce proceedings by refusing to respond to a spouse’s filing?

There is a limited window of opportunity for respondents

An abusive or controlling spouse could potentially force someone to remain married by ignoring their divorce filing if the law required their involvement in the process. Therefore, New York family law statutes specifically limit how long a respondent has to counter the terms submitted to the courts in their spouse’s divorce paperwork.

Most spouses served divorce documents in New York have just 20 days to respond by countering the proposed terms set by their spouse and establishing their own demands for the divorce process. If the respondent does not currently reside in New York, then they have 30 days from the date of service to respond.

If one spouse simply ignores the documents filed by the other, the party who initially filed the divorce documents can move forward with an uncontested divorce by default. Essentially, they use the lack of response to their advantage by requesting that the courts grant the divorce with the terms that they established in their paperwork.

When one spouse simply refuses to acknowledge the divorce filing of the other, they may put themselves at a disadvantage because they leave all of the decision-making to the person who filed the paperwork. For someone eager to move on after an unhappy marriage but concerned about a contentious divorce, a lack of response from a spouse can actually be one of the more favorable outcomes.

Learning more about the laws that govern New York divorce filings by seeking legal guidance may help people feel more confident about their decision to take control of their lives by ending an unhealthy marriage.