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You Want A Divorce. Your Ex Says No. What Now?

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One of the most worry-inducing divorce law issues that people face is what happens if their ex decides to put up a fight to stop the divorce. It's important to separate the emotional components of this issue from the legal ones because some of the worst misinformation on this topic is emotionally-driven. Here are four things you should know about what happens and what to do when one party tries to stop the divorce process.

If Still You Want a Divorce, It's Happening

Starting in the late 1960s with changes to California's law, a nationwide trend shifted the entire divorce system in America. The most important aspect of this shift was the arrival of no-fault divorce. A no-fault divorce means only one party has to want the marriage ended, and they don't have to provide a more compelling reason than irreconcilable difference.

If the other partner thinks the marriage can be saved, it doesn't matter. Once one person has cited irreconcilable differences and sued for a divorce, the only thing that can change the direction of the case is if they withdraw the petition. If you stick to your request and insist on seeing the divorce through, the law will make it happen.

Know Your State's Laws

Although no-fault divorce guarantees that you will get your divorce eventually, the timeframe varies significantly among the states. Some states require cooling-off periods to make sure things haven't settled down. California has the longest cooling-off period at 6 months. Conversely, some states allow immediate divorces. Many others have short periods, and there are often longer ones if the couple has any children.

If your state has a cooling-off period, you'll have to sue for divorce and then wait for the period to expire. Just take the cooling-off period and add a day to figure out when you can have a lawyer finalize the divorce.


The jurisdiction in most cases is fairly simple. Wherever both members of the couple live dictates the jurisdiction. There are a few oddities, such as couples who live in different states or countries for business reasons. Also, military members usually get longer periods to respond, especially if they're deployed.

Serving Paperwork

Under divorce law, the party suing for divorce must formally notify the other one. Your attorney will submit copies of the petition to the appropriate family court for where you live. They will then serve a copy to your ex to provide them time to learn what's happening and to respond.

For more information on the divorce process and what to do if your spouse doesn't want a divorce, talk to a divorce law attorney in your area like those at Cooper Levenson Attorneys At Law