How long does a divorce take if one party doesn’t agree

Divorce can be a challenging and emotionally taxing process, even more so when one party doesn’t agree to it. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the complexities of divorcing when your spouse won’t sign the divorce papers. From understanding the legal aspects to discussing potential solutions, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how long a divorce may take under these circumstances. 

How to Get Divorced If Your Spouse Won’t Sign 

The Divorce Petition 

When one party doesn’t agree to the divorce, the process typically begins with the filing of a divorce petition. This document outlines the grounds for divorce and the relief sought. It’s essential to consult with an attorney to ensure your petition is accurately prepared. 

Serving Divorce Papers 

After filing the petition, you must serve divorce papers to your spouse. If they refuse to accept them, there are legal alternatives, such as mailing the papers or hiring a process server. 

Waiting Periods 

In many jurisdictions, there are mandatory waiting periods before a divorce can be finalized. These waiting periods vary from state to state, so it’s crucial to understand your local laws. 

Alternative Service Methods 

If your spouse remains uncooperative, you may explore alternative methods of service approved by the court. This might include publishing a notice in a newspaper or seeking permission from the court for a substituted service. 

How Long Does a Divorce Take if One Party Doesn’t Agree 

Legal Considerations 

The timeline for a divorce when one party doesn’t agree depends on several legal factors. It can be significantly affected by the specific divorce laws in your jurisdiction and the nature of the disagreement. 

Factors Influencing the Timeline 

The complexity of your case, court caseload, and your spouse’s willingness to negotiate can all impact how long the divorce takes. Contested divorces tend to take longer compared to uncontested ones. 

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce 

In an uncontested divorce, both parties agree to the divorce terms, making the process faster and smoother. However, in contested divorces, where one party doesn’t agree, litigation and negotiations can prolong the proceedings. 

What If My Spouse Won’t Sign Divorce Papers 

Refusal to Sign 

If your spouse refuses to sign the divorce papers, it doesn’t necessarily halt the process. The court can proceed with the divorce even without their consent. 

Legal Consequences 

In some cases, your spouse’s refusal to cooperate might lead to legal consequences or sanctions imposed by the court. Your attorney can guide you through these potential outcomes. 

Negotiation and Mediation 

To expedite the divorce process and minimize conflicts, consider negotiation or mediation. These methods can help both parties find common ground and reach a resolution that satisfies both sides. 

Do Both Sides Have to Agree to a Divorce 

No-Fault Divorce 

In many jurisdictions, you can file for a no-fault divorce, which doesn’t require both parties to agree. No-fault divorce is based on the grounds of irreconcilable differences or the marriage being irretrievably broken. 

Unilateral Divorce 

In some cases, a spouse can obtain a divorce unilaterally, even without the other party’s consent. However, the specific requirements and procedures vary by jurisdiction. 

Court Proceedings 

If all else fails, the divorce can proceed through court proceedings. A judge will review the case, hear arguments from both sides, and make a final decision on the divorce terms. 


Navigating a divorce when one party doesn’t agree can be challenging, but it’s not an insurmountable obstacle. Understanding the legal process, seeking professional guidance, and considering alternative dispute resolution methods can help you move forward. While the timeline may vary, the goal remains the same: achieving a fair and equitable resolution that allows both parties to move on with their lives. 

Seeking a Swift Resolution? Contact Us Today! 

If you’re looking for a dedicated team of divorce attorneys in New Jersey who can help you navigate the complexities of divorce when one party doesn’t agree, contact Trimble Law today. We’re here to provide you with the legal support and guidance you need to achieve a favorable outcome.