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What if my spouse does not agree to divorce?

On Behalf of | Aug 6, 2021 | Family Law

Reaching the decision to end a marriage is no easy task. Individuals often debate the idea for a long time before they pursue a divorce – or even inform their spouse they want a divorce.

Facing pushback and arguments from one’s spouse can make a divorce even more stressful and challenging than it already is. But many people worry: can they still move forward with a divorce even if their spouse disagrees?

Do both spouses have to agree to divorce?

The other spouse does not necessarily have to agree to divorce for the proceedings to move forward. Individuals must only make sure they meet North Carolina’s legal conditions to begin the process of a divorce, which include:

  1. The spouses living separately or being separated for one year and one day
  2. At least one spouse living in North Carolina for at least six months

A spouse’s opposition does not factor into the conditions or ability to file for divorce. Even so, state law does require individuals to provide their spouses with proper notice that they filed for divorce.

Important note: Pushback could make the divorce more complex

While a spouse’s refusal to divorce will not stop the proceedings, it will often create more challenges throughout the process. For example:

  • It is likely spouses will have to take divorce matters to court if one does not wish to divorce
  • In turn, the proceedings might take longer as spouses have to navigate disputes

Managing these challenges is not impossible, but individuals must be prepared in these cases.

What should you do in this situation?

Getting a divorce is already a life-changing and often distressing experience. So, what can individuals do if they face pushback from their spouse? It can help if individuals:

  • Get organized and informed about their case
  • Give the other spouse some time to process after first informing them
  • Stay respectful of their spouse and in any interactions with them
  • Understand all of the options available to move forward

Every situation is different. Some spouses might simply need time to think about the divorce, while others might cling to the marriage and avoid divorce at all costs. Neither can prevent individuals from pursuing a divorce.