The end of a marriage is always hard, but especially so when one partner is not on board with the idea of a permanent split. If your partner recently surprised you with the request for a divorce, you may be feeling confused about what to do next. Do you fight to keep the marriage? What legal steps should you take? Are you out of options? Let’s discuss what to do if your spouse wants a divorce but you want to stay married.
Can Your Spouse Get a Divorce Without Your Consent?
First, you may be wondering if your spouse will be able to move forward with the divorce without you. In short, yes, your spouse will be able to get a divorce even if you do not consent. Once they serve you with divorce papers, they can continue on with the divorce without your participation. This is because Utah is a no-fault divorce state, meaning one partner can claim irreconcilable differences and proceed with a divorce. However, the process will take longer and be more difficult than it would be if both spouses were on board with the divorce.
Your Next Steps
Discuss Legal Separation
If you are adamantly against getting divorced and feel that you and your spouse can get your marriage back on the right track, propose the idea of legal separation. Legal separation still allows both spouses space and time apart, while maintaining their status as legally married. During a legal separation, you may live as though you are divorced and view it as a ‘test run’ to see what life would be like if you were to split permanently. During this time, you and your spouse may either determine you’d like to reconcile, or you may realize that the separation is for the best and you want to officially divorce.
Some of the main benefits of legal separation are:
- Flexibility: If you decide to reconcile during your separation, you do not have to get remarried. You can simply end your separation, and your legal status will revert to married.
- Money: Getting divorced is expensive. If you divorce but later determine you want to remarry, you’ve already spent thousands on your divorce that you cannot recoup. Instead, a legal separation is an inexpensive way to get a clear idea of what you want for your future.
- Religion: Some religions have a negative view of divorce. Legal separation allows you to remain legally and technically married while living separately.
- Benefits: During a legal separation, each spouse can still use their marital benefits like military benefits, social security, or tax benefits.
- Ease of transition: If you are going to move forward with a divorce after a legal separation, your separation agreement can be easily made into a divorce agreement.
As you share the idea of a legal separation with your spouse, accept the fact that they might say no. If your spouse is still certain they want a formal divorce, you will not be able to change their mind. Instead, begin taking steps to protect your best interests.
Contact an Attorney
After your spouse brings up divorce, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. Even if you do not want your marriage to end, you must accept that your spouse can move forward and you need to be prepared. A family law attorney can help ensure that your interests are protected, and can work with you to determine your ideal setup for after divorce. This includes important factors like asset division, child custody, child support, and alimony.
Don’t Act Impulsively
You may be feeling highly emotional after the surprise request for a divorce. However, it’s crucial that you keep your impulses and emotions under control. If during this time you act out of anger, your behavior could be used against you when it comes time for divorce negotiations. Making threats, taking the kids without notice, or otherwise showing signs of reckless behavior can negatively impact your post-divorce setup.
Salt Lake City Divorce and Separation Attorneys
While there are no ideal circumstances for divorce, our team at Lokken & Putnam, P.C. understands how especially difficult this process is for someone who wishes the marriage was continuing. If your spouse has recently brought up the topic of divorce, or served you with papers, contact us at Lokken & Putnam, P.C.. You may feel unprepared for this next phase of your life, but our team is here to help set you up for success and support you each step of the way.
Call us at (801) 829-9783 to set up a consultation with our Utah family law attorneys.