What If Your Spouse Contests the Divorce?

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In every state in the United States, as of 2011, you can get a divorce even if your spouse contests the divorce or refuses to cooperate. It may not be cheap or quick, but it can be done. To successfully achieve your goal, you must know where to file the divorce and what conditions you must meet before a court will grant the decree.

No-Fault Divorce

Every state in the union has adopted some form of no-fault divorce. This means that you can get a divorce without having to prove that someone did something wrong in the marriage. It also means that either party can obtain a divorce, even if the other party does not want one. Each state has the authority to set its own divorce laws, so the requirements to obtain a divorce vary from state to state. When you file for a no-fault divorce, you are usually required to allege irretrievable breakdown of the marriage or irreconcilable differences.


If you're seeking a no-fault divorce, courts often impose a waiting period or a period of time where the parties must live separate and apart before the divorce can be granted. Some states prohibit cohabitation with a new partner during the separation period. If one spouse contests the divorce, the amount of time required to wait is often longer than it would be if both parties agreed to the divorce. The separation requirement varies widely from state to state. Idaho has a five-year separation requirement, which is the longest of all the states.

Other Requirements

In addition to separation periods, states may impose other prerequisites before granting a final divorce. Most will require that any financial issues be resolved. Other requirements can be educational classes for parties with minor children or marital counseling to ensure the marriage cannot be saved.

Fault Divorce

Some states offer only no-fault divorce. In other states, you still have the option of both fault grounds and no-fault grounds. To obtain a fault-based divorce, whether it is contested or not, you must prove that certain conditions existed or actions occurred. Each state has its own rules about what you have to prove to obtain this type of divorce. Adultery is one example of fault-based grounds for divorce.


If some states allow divorce more quickly than others, why not just file for divorce in the state that allows the quickest divorce? This is not an option in a contested divorce. The court where you file your divorce must have jurisdiction over both the divorce itself and over your spouse. Often this is the state where both parties last lived together.



About the Author

Kelly Mroz has more than 12 years of experience as an attorney in family, business and estate matters. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, where she served as an associate editor for the "Journal of Law and Commerce." Mroz's work has also been published in the "Pennsylvania Family Law Quarterly."

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