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What Should I Do If My Spouse Refuses to Sign Divorce Papers?


Divorce is never easy, either emotionally, legally, or financially. Many divorcing spouses have their attorneys draft fair settlement and child custody agreements according to the state’s guidelines only to find that their spouse refuses to sign the papers because they have a different idea of what’s fair or a different goal for the child custody arrangement. It’s even more difficult if one spouse doesn’t want the divorce or refuses to participate in the process as a means of punishment to the other or to make things as difficult as possible. So what do you do if your spouse refuses to sign divorce papers?

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What Happens Next if a Spouse Refuses to Sign a Divorce Settlement Agreement?

If your spouse won’t sign the agreement because they dispute one or more terms of the divorce, there are several options to resolve the issue. These include the following:

  • Scheduling a meeting between you, your spouse, and your divorce attorneys in Fort Collins to discuss the disputed terms to see if you can make minor adjustments or reach an acceptable compromise. If so, your attorney can draft the new agreement for your spouse to sign
  • Meet with a professional mediator who helps facilitate communication and compromise by presenting workable solutions to resolve disputed issues

If spouses reach an agreement and sign a settlement, the judge only needs to sign off on it to make the agreement legally binding. If attempts to resolve the disputes outside of court through meetings and mediation fail, then the case must go to court as a contested divorce. Either spouse may request further mediation attempts at any time during the court process to resolve contentious matters. Otherwise, both sides must present their arguments in court for a judge to decide. The judge’s orders are legally binding and enforceable.

What If My Spouse Refuses to Sign Divorce Papers or Participate in the Divorce Process?

Colorado only requires one spouse to seek a divorce in order to grant the divorce. Although it’s always beneficial for both parties to participate in the process, especially if they can amicably agree on terms in an uncontested divorce, the state doesn’t allow one spouse to hold the other “hostage” in the marriage by refusing to sign divorce papers. Instead, the process becomes a divorce by default or a “default divorce” in Colorado.

When one spouse refuses to sign papers or participate in the Colorado divorce process, they also give up their right to have a say in any of the divorce terms, including the division of marital assets and child custody. The judge will simply grant the divorce according to the terms the petitioner for the divorce requested.

Child support in Fort Collins is an obligation and the state has many options for enforcement. Even if one spouse fails to sign divorce papers or appear in court, if the judge determines they owe child support to the other spouse, they must pay the support or face enforcement measures that could result in criminal contempt charges.

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