Can You Get a Divorce Without the Other Person Signing?

Schwartz, Fox & Saltzman, LLC. – Philadelphia Divorce Lawyers

Yes, you can obtain a divorce without your spouse’s signature.  There are many reasons why spouses refuse to sign.  Sometimes a spouse cannot be located or the spouse does not want the marriage to end. Regardless of your situation, talking with an experienced divorce lawyer can help you if your spouse is refusing to sign divorce documents or refusing contact.

This guide by the Philadelphia divorce attorneys at Schwartz, Fox, and Saltzman breaks down how you can still get a divorce without your spouse’s signature in Pennsylvania.

Your Spouse Doesn’t Need to Sign Divorce Papers

Your spouse’s consent and signature is not necessary to get a divorce under certain circumstances in the state of Pennsylvania. If you are seeking a no-fault divorce proceeding, your spouse does not need to sign the initial divorce papers if you have been separated for one year.

Reasons Why Your Spouse Refuses to Sign

Sometimes spouses will not sign because they cannot be located which in turn requires the spouse seeking the divorce to obtain alternative service of process. Some spouses refuse to sign because they want to make the divorce process more difficult. Another common reason is the non-signing spouse does not agree to certain terms of the divorce.  

What to Do if Your Spouse Doesn’t Want a Divorce

While it is easier to obtain a divorce if both spouses want to end a marriage, it can be difficult if your spouse wants to remain married. If your spouse decides they do not want to end the marriage, you will likely have a contested divorce which unfortunately entails more legal fees and costs.  

Default Judgment

If your spouse does not want a divorce and fails to respond to the lawsuit, you will likely need to have a default divorce hearing.  If your spouse fails to respond to the lawsuit or if you are unable to locate them, you need to obtain alternative service of process. After you serve your spouse, you can request the court to grant a divorce decree and resolve any outstanding issues.  


Mediation is not a desirable option if one spouse wants to remain married.  Divorce mediation is meant for spouses seeking to divorce amicably but disagree on resolving marital issues.  Additionally, mediation allows divorcing spouses to have a neutral arbitrator guide them to resolution as opposed to enduring the litigation process.


If one spouse does not want to divorce or is unwilling to agree to an uncontested divorce, a hearing is usually necessary. Litigation may be necessary to resolve contested issues such as the division of marital property and alimony before the final divorce decree can be ordered.

Potential Complications

An obvious complication is your spouse refuses to sign the divorce paperwork.  Another complication is your spouse elects to contest some or all the issues in the divorce like the child custody or spousal support decision. This can become more complicated than an amicable divorce.

How an Experienced Divorce Attorney Can Help

An experienced family law attorney can help you escape a toxic relationship.  You need someone that can ensure your rights and assets are protected. Contact the dedicated attorneys at Schwartz, Fox & Saltzman today!

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