divorce lawyer

When your spouse files for divorce, it means that they believe that your marriage is irretrievably broken. If you disagree that your marriage is broken, you may wonder whether you can prevent a divorce from being filed or a divorce decree from being carried out. As a divorce lawyer can explain, there are a few steps that you can take to dispute a divorce, but also a few precautions that you should be aware of. 

You Have the Right to Dispute the Divorce

In the case of a divorce, your partner, as the person who filed, is called the petitioner, while you are the respondent. As the respondent, you have the right to disagree with the petitioner’s declaration and request that the family court recommend marriage counseling. If marriage counseling fails to solve the problem, you can further request a court hearing. However, court hearings on divorce are uncommon. They are expensive, emotionally trying, and seldom amount to much. If your ex-partner has already gone so far as to file for divorce and marriage counseling has failed to help, chances are your marriage is irretrievably broken. 

The Filing Spouse Has the Right to Obtain a Divorce

If your spouse wants a divorce, they are legally entitled to obtain one. You cannot prevent your ex from utilizing their legal rights. Once the papers have been filed, you can do nothing to change the situation aside from contesting the divorce. Only a filing spouse can order the papers to be retracted. 

You Are Obligated to Respect the Divorce Decree

The divorce decree is the final step in the divorce, outlining each party’s rights and obligations to the other, such as alimony and child support, division of property, custody agreements, and so forth. It is important to remember that a divorce decree is court-ordered, and if you are not acting in compliance with the rules of the decree, your ex-spouse can request a motion for civil contempt of court and you can be punished.

If the terms of the divorce decree require you to pay child support, you can get in even more serious trouble for refusing to comply. In some cases, deliberately disregarding your child support payments qualifies as a misdemeanor or felony, and your ex-spouse can attempt to have you charged in a criminal court. 

Divorce seldom comes as a surprise. If you suspect that your spouse intends to file for divorce, but you don’t believe that your marriage is irretrievably broken, it is best to remain civil and attempt to remedy things before legalities are involved. If your spouse serves you with divorce papers and you still disagree, speak with a family lawyer who can help you understand your rights and the best way forward.