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What if your spouse does not want a divorce?

On Behalf of | Jan 31, 2023 | Divorce |

Even if you and your spouse have been facing significant challenges in your relationship, they may consider it a shock when you ask for a divorce. You have thought long and hard about this option, but they refuse to consider it.

The way forward will be different for everyone. Even so, there are a few things you should do if you find yourself in this situation struggling with your spouse’s opinion.

3 steps to take

If your spouse is shocked about the prospect of a divorce, they may need some time to process. You may also want to give them time and space to avoid a reactionary response that could escalate into an unproductive argument. When emotions have calmed to some extent, then it is helpful to:

  1. Talk about it: Fully explain your decision-making process, while being mindful of your spouse’s emotions. They do deserve to understand the thought behind your decision. Then, take time to hear them out. Even if you have carefully considered divorce and you feel it is the best option, it is important to understand your spouse’s point of view as well. Holding a conversation about the challenges in your relationship will not be easy for either of you, so it is important to stay calm.
  2. Discuss your options: If your spouse wishes to work on the relationship – and you agree – seeking counseling may be an option. Of course, counseling requires efforts from both parties, so you should evaluate the goals you wish to achieve with counseling beforehand. You may also agree to a trial separation to determine how you wish to move forward.
  3. Understand the impacts: If you do move forward with the divorce, be aware of how a spouse’s disagreement could affect the overall process. Some spouses may draw out the process on purpose or refuse to attend mediation sessions, for example, if they do not agree with the divorce. There are ways to address these matters and keep the process moving.

Important note: These steps may not be feasible for everyone. If there is a risk or history of domestic violence, it is best to have an exit plan in place. There is help available at the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233.

Remember: A divorce can still move forward

As the North Carolina Judicial Branch notes, your spouse does not have to agree to a divorce for it to move forward. Of course, there are various conditions that you must meet, such as completing the separation period and promptly providing legal notices. However, your spouse does not have to assent to the divorce for it to occur. It is important to understand all of your rights and options, especially if you may face disagreements with your spouse.