What if I Don’t Want a Divorce?
If your spouse has indicated that they want a divorce, or if you have been served with divorce papers, but you don’t want a divorce, there are a couple of options for married couples, both with and without the Court’s involvement.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
Licensed marriage and family therapists (also commonly known as a marriage counselor, marital therapist, family counselor, or family therapist) are trained to aid couples with difficult relationships or marriages move forward in their relationships. This could mean working to stay married or, if necessary, help both you and your spouse talk about a new life as unmarried people. Even if there is a separation, couples can continue to protect and support their children as co-parents, and amicable divorces can even result in the couple becoming friends.
You also have the option of participating in family counseling or therapy. Family counseling or therapy can help if there are conflicts or relationship issues within the family that, includes children or step-children. Family counseling will involve not only the husband and wife participating but also the children or other adults in the home.
Family Counseling can help work out difficult emotions from past relationship conflicts, co-parenting issues, feelings of hurt or blame, address self-esteem struggles, accept big or uncomfortable changes that have had a significant effect on the family, and any other reason that has caused your partner to speak to you about divorce. Therapists are there to help you, your spouse, and your family work on and possibly mend the marriage through this emotional time of your life.
Unfortunately, there is no way to force the other spouse to go to counseling or work to save the marriage if one spouse has decided that they want the divorce. In California, couples can file for a divorce on the grounds that irreconcilable differences have emerged in the marriage. This simply means that the other spouse believes that the marriage cannot be saved and must be dissolved. Unfortunately, there is no way to change or stop this, even if you feel your husband or wife has not made any effort to save the marriage. If one spouse wants to move forward with the divorce process, the Court only needs one person to participate to grant the divorce.
Alternatives to Filing For a Divorce
Petition for Custody and Support
There are a couple of alternatives to a divorce that will still keep the marriage intact. If a spouse who has a child with the other spouse does not want a divorce but needs time away and would like to have custody and child support orders put in place, a married person can file a Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children. Through this process, the Court can establish child custody and child support orders during the marriage. If you want time away from your spouse but a divorce does not make sense, this type of action is a temporary solution to avoid filing for a divorce while still having orders in place.
Another alternative is filing for a legal separation as opposed to a divorce. The process of legally separating is substantially similar to the process of going through a divorce. The Court deals with all issues that would have been present in a divorce, including property division, child custody, child support, and spousal support. If you and your spouse do not convert the case to a divorce before judgment is made, the Court will resolve all issues of the marriage without dissolving it. If you are not sure you want a divorce but want to divide the property and debt of the marriage, this could be an option for you. Similarly, if you would like to retain certain benefits of the marriage, such as a right of survivorship or the ability to remain on the other spouse’s insurance, legal separation is also an option.
It is important to know that both spouses need to be in agreement that they would like a legal separation and not a divorce. This is because either spouse can amend the petition to ask for a divorce instead of legal separation. If this is done before judgment, the case will proceed as a divorce. If both agree and judgement is entered on the legal separation, the marriage will remain intact, you will need to file a divorce petition if either party decides that they want a divorce.
A person can choose to separate from their partner without filing anything in Court, and spouses can make informal agreements about what should happen within the relationship. One thing to consider, though, is that there will be no orders from a judge that will protect interest in property or ways to obtain formal custody or support orders. However, this can relieve pressure to allow you and your spouse to talk about the future, live life separately for a while, take some time for self-care, and decide if you and your spouse are emotionally at the point if moving forward with a divorce. ,
This method can save money for you and your spouse since you make changes to your relationship as needed and without the cost of legal fees. If you and your spouse come to realize that your spouse is not the right person any longer and your life is better without your spouse, but the custody and financial agreements have worked during your trial separation, you can use that as a guide for a marriage settlement agreement. A divorce attorney would be able to help mediate if you and your spouse have come to an agreement and decide to file for a divorce.
What if I don’t respond to the divorce?
If you have already been served with paperwork, it is important that you respond timely. From the date that you are served, you have thirty days (30) to file a response to the dissolution. If you do not file a response a default can be filed against you. What this means is that the Court can move forward without your participation, whether you want the divorce or not. These situations often lead to exceedingly difficult divorces for the two spouses involved and their families. It is recommended you retain a divorce lawyer to help you with court papers and any divorce hearing that will arise, regardless of whether it is only you or your spouse who wants a divorce. Divorce attorneys are there to help guide their clients through these emotionally difficult points of their lives when it is hard to stay calm.
While there are alternatives to the divorce process, unfortunately, there is no way to stop the divorce from moving forward in California unless both parties decide that they want to reconcile. If you would like specific advice regarding your unique situation, contact Family Law Attorney Roseville to schedule a free consultation with someone who can help you navigate this process.