If Your Spouse Won’t Sign the Divorce Documents You Prepared

My work is focused on couples who need to divorce and are able to be reasonably cooperative, but it probably won’t surprise you that I hear from a fair number of clients whose spouse refuses to sign papers after they’re prepared. Here’s the advice I give them.

First, be patient. Often a spouse who’s adamantly and irrevocably opposed to signing divorce documents on Tuesday will look you in the eye on Friday and say “hand me the damn papers. Let’s get this over with.”

Second, there’s nothing wrong with cash or other incentives. If your spouse won’t sign unless you pay him or her $250 today, it may be worth it. Just get the papers signed first.

Third, listen. Carefully. Is there some specific provision in the papers that seems to be standing between your spouse and signing? If so, your lawyer may be able to coach you on how you can soften or eliminate the offending provision while still protecting your rights.

Finally, if you’ve tried everything else, there’s nothing to lose by setting a deadline. And make sure you explain the advantage to your spouse in remaining cooperative. “You see this provision where I let you keep your retirement plan and not share it with me? If I need to hire a lawyer, that will change. I’ll get half of your retirement, and you’ll pay my lawyer for getting it from you. I’ve selected the lawyer I will hire, and I will do that if you haven’t signed the papers and returned them to me by Thursday week.”

Because this page talks about my legal practice, I need to say this: “No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.”