Divorce is an extremely difficult and emotionally trying process with two spouses who both agree on the separation, but it becomes even more difficult when one spouse is unwilling to agree to the divorce.
What if my spouse won’t agree to a divorce?
If your spouse still refuses to play ball (even after the six-month or year-long separation phase required in Virginia), it will affect the decisions you have to make when moving forward with the process. A necessary part of divorce is the collection of information that allows the attorneys to begin negotiating on behalf of their clients, and when both parties agree to the divorce, this information is typically offered up freely. However, if your spouse refuses, this process forces you to take further (more expensive) action, including issuing subpoenas to those with the information (banks, credit card companies, etc.) who may charge for copies of the documents you seek.
Other important steps in the process such as filing for divorce, court appearances and mediation can be disrupted by an unwilling spouse, which forces the divorcing spouse to spend more time and money to move things along.
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In addition to the increased financial burden is increased emotional stress. While sadness and resentment are common during a divorce, dealing with an unwilling spouse can motivate particularly pointed anger that can disrupt the grieving process, evoke guilt, and potentially create a situation in which you are made out to be the bad parent to your children for wanting a divorce your partner does not want.
Importantly, if you take the proper steps to keep furthering the process along (i.e. taking your attorney’s advice about how to proceed, when to be more lenient or patient, concur with the courts requests), and your spouse does not, it is possible the judge could order your spouse to pay your attorney’s fees and costs and may even deny your spouse the opportunity to introduce evidence at the trial.
Dealing with an unwilling spouse makes a difficult process even harder – emotionally and financially. An experienced attorney can be extremely helpful if they efficiently navigate the legal process allowing you to better focus on your emotional health and being the strongest parent you can be.