woman contemplating divorce

Can My Spouse Obtain a Divorce Without My Consent?

If your marriage becomes unhealthy or irretrievably broken, you may begin to contemplate divorce. However, if your spouse wishes to fight for your marriage or disagrees with pursuing a divorce, it can become difficult to move forward with the dissolution of your marriage.

Divorce Without One Party’s Consent

There are three ways that a couple can divorce without the consent of both parties: a one-year separation divorce, a fault divorce, or a divorce through extended mental hospitalization. Our Shemtob Draganosky Taylor Stein, PC divorce attorneys explain the pros and cons of each type of divorce.

Separation Divorce

If one party does not agree to a divorce, but the couple lives separately and apart for at least one year, the party seeking divorce can file for a no-fault separation-based divorce without the consent of the other spouse on the premise that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Only one party needs to assert that there is a separation of one year or more; however, the other party can object. In the case of an objection, the court will have a hearing to determine whether the divorce will move forward.

Fault-Based Divorce

Often a taxing and emotional process, filing for fault-based divorce is a method that can be used if one party does not consent to the divorce. In a fault-based divorce, the filing party must present a case to a judge proving that their spouse committed an act that is grounds for divorce under the statute.

Not every situation will call for a fault-based divorce; however, individuals can file for a fault-based divorce after one of the following situations:

● The plaintiff was knowingly and willfully deserted by their spouse for at least one year,

● The plaintiff suffered “cruel and barbarous treatment” from their spouse or had their life endangered,

● The plaintiff discovered infidelity by their spouse,

● The plaintiff discovered their spouse was married to another individual at the time of their legal marriage, or

● The plaintiff was mistreated by their spouse.

As the plaintiff has a heavy burden of proof for their divorce grounds, it can often be an emotional process where the plaintiff faces past mistreatment.

Divorce Through Mental Hospitalization

If your spouse has been admitted to a mental institution for advanced care due to mental illness, you can file for divorce without your spouse’s consent.

To be able to pursue this method of divorce, you must reach the following guidelines:

● Your spouse must be hospitalized for mental illness and receive inpatient care for at least 18 consecutive months,

● There is no medical expectation that your spouse will be released from inpatient care for at least the next 18 months, and

● One of your spouse’s treating doctors has provided a written statement that release from inpatient care is not to be expected within the next 18 months.

If you believe that your spouse will be unable to be released within the next 18 months and have confirmation from their medical professionals, you can file for divorce using this method.

What If I Don’t Want To Get Divorced?

If your spouse is filing for divorce and you do not wish to consent to a divorce, you have options. If they file for a separation-based divorce, you can file an objection stating that you do not believe the marriage is irreparably broken and there is a chance of reconciliation. A trusted family law attorney can help you prepare your objection for the court. If the court finds that there is space for reconciliation, the divorce hearing may be prolonged by a period of 90 to 120 days, where the divorce petition is revisited, and it is determined if the couple has reconciled or not.

If the court does determine that the divorce will move forward, you will need to find an experienced divorce attorney to represent you. As your divorce is not mutual, you will likely face contested issues regarding custody, support, alimony, and property division, which makes it essential to find a law firm with expertise in complex family law matters.

Montgomery County Divorce Attorneys

Regardless of which side you are on, the end of your marriage is stressful and difficult. When one spouse will not consent to a divorce, this challenging decision can lead to a prolonged process. Our divorce attorneys are excellent listeners and will work to understand how you may feel, so they can advocate for your interests as you pursue or defend a contested divorce.

Are you seeking a divorce, but your spouse does not consent? Is your spouse seeking a divorce that you do not want? Schedule a consultation with our experienced divorce attorneys today by calling (215) 544-3974 or filling out our online contact form.