Can you still get a divorce even if your spouse is completely uncooperative? Yes.

There is a very basic concept in all lawsuits called “notice.” It is the responsibility of the party suing to give the party being sued a heads-up that there is a court action happening. They have to provide the defendant with the papers that have been filed with the court, and a summons telling them that they have a certain amount of time to respond before they lose by default. This process, while very basic, is sometimes an impediment to otherwise routine cases, such as divorces.

Many people come to my office in Fort Smith or Fayetteville seeking what should be an uncontested divorce with no property or no children. Oftentimes these couples have been separated for a number of years, sometimes even decades. They have moved on to other relationships, and they want a divorce so they can finally move on. However, because these folks haven’t had any measure of contact with their spouses, they don’t know the first thing about where the spouse is currently located. “I can’t get a divorce because I don’t know where my wife is.”

Another issue is a spouse that is easily located, but “he won’t sign the papers!” These spouses often do not see the benefit to getting a divorce, do not want to be bothered by their spouses, or are avoiding paying child support as a result of the divorce.

Does this sound like something you are or could potentially be dealing with? Luckily, these do not have to be brick walls to your situation.

In the instance where someone is impossible to locate, your attorney can serve them by Warning Order in a newspaper in the jurisdiction of their last known whereabouts. Once proof of publication is filed with the court, you can finally obtain a court date. This has some additional cost to you, but allows the case to move forward.

Where a spouse is unwilling to cooperate in receiving notice, things may be a little tricky. Your lawyer can follow state law to send them notice by mail. Your attorney will mail the divorce papers to your spouse. This simply requires for them to sign for the piece of mail they are receiving, and not necessarily the actual divorce papers they have received. Once your attorney has verification that the defendant has received the notice of the lawsuit by mail and has obtained a signature, that is enough to prove to the court that the spouse had notice of the court date and just did not come. After 30 days from receiving the mail, if your spouse does not formally answer the complaint for divorce in the court; or, if your spouse does not hire an attorney to answer, then you will probably be given a divorce as a matter of default.

If you would like to get a divorce, give us a call or come visit us at our Fort Smith or Fayetteville locations:

(479) 782-1125