Yes, your spouse can deny you a divorce, but he/she cannot prevent you from completing the divorce that you want.
To understand the topic better, you need to get a grip on the following dynamics:
Why Do Some Spouses Deny Divorce?
Divorce is a heartbreaking event for most spouses and can be tough to deal with. A spouse who has invested his/her life in the marriage, brought up children, been through thick and thin together with the other spouse, and made sacrifices for the family may feel like he/she is being left in the lurch for no fault of his/her. So, insecurity, anger, revenge, or any other reason, may make such a spouse deny the divorce.
Can I Initiate The Divorce Without My Spouse’s Consent?
Yes, you can. You don’t need your spouse’s consent to initiate the divorce process. Your divorce attorney can trigger the process by filing a divorce complaint/petition on which your spouse’s signature is not required. Typically, the procedure involves your divorce lawyer filing the petition and the forms mandated by the state and then serving these papers to your spouse.
Know, however, that you cannot get a divorce without your spouse’s knowledge.
How Does A Spouse Deny Divorce?
A spouse who wants to deny divorce will typically try his/her best to avoid being served the divorce papers – thereby complicating the case and delaying the inevitable.
This spouse may be under the impression that if the papers are not served, the divorce will automatically be refused. However, this is a misconception and the maximum that such tactics can do is delay the process. This is the only way that a spouse can deny the divorce.
What Should I Do When My Spouse Avoids Being Served With The Papers?
If the papers cannot be served to your spouse by mail or in person, then you need to prove to the courts that the papers cannot be served reasonably.
If the courts get convinced, they are likely to issue an order allowing you to publish the divorce papers in a newspaper, or more likely, to serve the divorce papers by email or social media messenger, and this act will be considered equivalent to physically serving the divorce papers. The published summons gives time to the other spouse to respond (usually up to several weeks depending on the state laws).
If the spouse does not respond to the published summons, you can file a request for default and a proposal for a divorce judgment. If your spouse still does not respond, the courts rule on an ex-parte basis.
What’s An Easy Way Out?
You can consider filing a no-fault divorce petition, which is allowed by all states, wherein you can cite that both spouses have irreconcilable differences, or they are incompatible, because of which the marriage has broken down irretrievably. No other reasons are required to be mentioned.
When your spouse denies you a divorce or avoids receiving the divorce papers, his/her act itself proves that the spouses have irreconcilable differences.