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My Spouse Wants a Divorce. Can I Say “No”?

Couple looking upset

Your marriage may be on the rocks, but is there any way to pump the brakes if your spouse asks for a divorce?

As an experienced Somerset divorce attorney can explain, you can’t stop the process entirely if it’s what the other party wants. But just as there are strategies people employ to accelerate the New Jersey divorce process, sometimes tactics are used to slow it. That doesn’t mean they’re always a good idea. Such measures include refusal to cooperate in good faith (or at all), dodging the divorce papers, or bogging down the system with unnecessary motions/legal filings. Such measures may delay the proceedings, but they’re also likely to be costly, frustrating to the Court (leading to fewer decisions in your favor) and result in lasting damage to whatever tenuous relationship currently exists.

Counseling is probably the most fruitful avenue, especially if the two of you still need to co-parent. Counseling is not advisable for relationships that involve abuse. Know that you cannot prevent a divorce from happening just because it’s not what you want. Putting off a consultation with a divorce lawyer typically does you no favors. In fact, doing so can be quite detrimental to your future. Even if you’re hopeful this will blow over and you’ll patch things up, opening discussions with a divorce attorney helps ensure your rights and best interests are protected in the event it doesn’t work out that way.

New Jersey is a No-Fault State for Divorce

New Jersey has largely done away with fault-based divorced. Unlike in decades past, there’s no need to prove issues like abuse or adultery to be granted a divorce. Instead, most divorce filings now simply cite the ambiguous “irreconcilable differences.”

No-fault divorce is available regardless of whether the other party participates in the process. One person simply asserts these differences have existed for at least six months, and there is no reasonable possibility of reconciliation.

Some reasons people cite for NOT wanting to divorce:

  • Still being in love with the other person/committed to working through problems.
  • Sincerely-held religious beliefs.
  • Anxiety about how divorce will adversely impact the children.
  • Concern about the social implications.
  • Worry about how it will impact their business.
  • Power struggles/abuse.

Some of these are fully legitimate concerns, but the fact remains: Family Courts do not require both parties’ consent to finalize a divorce. What’s more, manipulative or coercive tactics to try to make someone stay are rarely effective, and could come back to bite you. One who engages in such behavior is likely to be judged harshly by the Court when it comes time to sort out things like child custody or no even no contact orders.

Ultimately, outright refusing to participate typically only results in a short end of the stick for the person who isn’t cooperating. When only one side submits evidence, that’s all the Court is going to have to go on to make the decision. Courts can issue default judgments without any say from you at all. Things like asset division and child custody orders are going to be put in place no matter what. Of course, Courts don’t prefer default judgments because they’re more vulnerable to challenge, but a Judge is not going to allow one party to block a divorce simply by boycotting the process.

By working with an experienced divorce attorney - and potentially a licensed therapist or other mental health specialist - you can determine whether certain steps to slow the process are wise.

Contact our Somerset County Child Support Lawyers at (732) 810-0034 to schedule an appointment.

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