Often, divorcing couples are on the same page about wanting to get a divorce. There are times, however, when one spouse wants the divorce and the other spouse does not. In these situations, the spouse who does not want the divorce may stall or refuse to do anything to keep the divorce proceedings moving toward a resolution. This can be extremely frustrating for the person seeking the divorce because it will cost them additional time and money, but the divorce will still eventually be granted.
In all Georgia divorces, the first step after filing the Petition for Divorce is that the Respondent has to be formally served with the Petition. In many amicable divorces, the person who files the Petition for Divorce (Petitioner) gives their spouse (Respondent) the opportunity to sign an Acknowledgment of Service as an alternative to being personally served with the divorce papers by a sheriff or private process server. If the Respondent is refusing to cooperate, however, he/she will just have to be personally served. If Respondent is really evading service, the Petitioner will likely have to use a private process server, who will request information about the Respondent’s looks, schedule, etc. in an additional effort to obtain service. This option is more expensive,but has a better chance of success.
If the Respondent is really being uncooperative, he/she will not likely sign any Settlement Agreement and may not even agree to attend mediation in an attempt to settle the divorce. In this situation, the Petitioner will have to request a final hearing in order to obtain a Final Decree of Divorce. So long as the Respondent is properly notified of the hearing date, the court can grant the divorce, even if the Respondent chooses not to attend.
Thus, in a nutshell, your spouse will not be able to prevent a divorce from happening, but he/she can certainly slow down the process, which will, in turn, cost everyone more money. Personal service costs more than obtaining a signed Acknowledgment of Service, and a final hearing almost always costs more than negotiating a settlement agreement. If your spouse’s actions during the divorce process are causing your legal fees to be significantly more expensive, you may want to consider a request for attorney’s fees.