Divorce is never easy, and matters can become even more complicated when your estranged wife doesn’t consent to the divorce itself. It’s not uncommon for one party or another to disagree with the divorce and even contest the grounds for the divorce itself, but what do you do when your wife refuses a divorce entirely?
Let’s take a look at what happens when your estranged wife refuses a divorce and discuss what may happen and what you can do about it.
What Are the Grounds for Immediate Divorce?
There are a few situations where divorce can be granted immediately and without much question. If your wife participated in adultery, sodomy, buggery, or was sentenced to over a year in prison due to a felony, an immediate divorce can be granted without further evidence or waiting needed. While these are the only grounds deemed for “immediate” divorce, your wife may still dispute those accusations which can significantly draw out your divorce proceedings.
If the latter is the case, a lengthy legal process is sure to ensue including discovery and a trial by court. However, if you can accurately establish your allegations for misconduct, the court may deem the divorce immediately without any further waiting period. Which brings us to our next point.
What Do I Do When She Refuses to Divorce?
If you and your attorney cannot establish grounds for immediate divorce and your wife still refuses a divorce, there are legal steps in place for that exact situation. In most instances, a waiting period must pass in order for a divorce to be granted if grounds for immediate divorce cannot be established. The waiting period can be either self-imposed (so-to-speak) or established by a separation agreement signed by both parties.
In most cases where grounds for immediate divorce can’t be established, a waiting period of six months to one year must pass before a divorce can be granted. If you and your spouse have not lived together nor been together intimately in over a year, the court may see this as adequate grounds to satisfy the necessary waiting period. In such a case, the waiting period may be shortened or waived all together and deemed a “no-fault” divorce.
Another option for shortening the waiting period in Virginia is for both parties to agree to a separation agreement. As long as you and your wife have no minor children together and neither party has minor children in the mix, the separation agreement can be shortened to 6 months. On the other hand, if minor children are involved with custody on the line, the mandatory waiting period is 12 months regardless of other conditions.
Refusal to Cooperate and Settle on Property, Support & Custody
Your estranged wife’s cooperation can certainly extend well beyond her disagreement with the grounds of divorce. By Virginia law, both parties should aim to negotiate and agree upon matters of marital property, alimony, and child custody, but if your spouse is already contrary to your position on divorce you’ll likely have to put those decisions in the hands of the court.
In the event that your spouse refuses to cooperate and settle on physical matters, a court hearing must take place in order to fairly separate property and child custody, among other things. This, inevitably, will slow down the divorce proceedings and make your filing for divorce much more cumbersome. In the end, you may very well get your divorce, but it will likely come at a higher cost and a bigger headache than you ever anticipated.
When to Get a Divorce Attorney
If you’re the one doing the divorce filing, you’ve likely already consulted an attorney for the case. Of course, the answer to when you should get an attorney is likely “yesterday.” All joking aside, divorce litigation (as with any legal proceeding) is complicated and isn’t the job for any amateur lawyer. You’ll need divorce lawyers for men who can stand up for your rights and fight for you and what you deserve.
The Firm for Men has never represented a woman and never will. No matter how big the mountain of divorce may seem, give our team a call today at 757-383-9184 and speak to a divorce attorney who will stand up for your rights as a man and as a father.