People who are preparing for a possible divorce are often unsure of what to expect from the process. Most people anticipate a moderate amount of pushback from their spouse. Some people even believe that they may be unable to obtain a divorce because their spouse will not agree to one. Certain people, for personal or religious reasons, have strong aversions to the idea of marital dissolution. They may insist that a divorce is simply not an option.
Does someone contemplating divorce in Minnesota have to worry that their spouse will ignore their divorce filing and effectively force them to stay married?
Marriage requires continued consent from both parties
For a marriage to occur, both spouses need to provide true consent to join their lives. Technically, they also have to provide consistent, ongoing consent to maintain the relationship with one another. Either spouse can decide at any point that the marriage is no longer serving them and seek a divorce.
If one spouse does not want a divorce, they may challenge the filing and argue about the terms set. However, they cannot simply ignore the divorce paperwork to prevent the process from moving forward. In a scenario in which one spouse refuses to acknowledge that their spouse filed for divorce, the person who filed can move the process forward on their own.
The Minnesota courts allow people to request a divorce by default. Such scenarios involved filing special paperwork with the courts after at least 30 days have passed since someone had their spouse served. Someone seeking to avoid a divorce might therefore actively try to avoid a process server to claim they had no knowledge of the divorce. Typically, there are ways around even the most recalcitrant attempts to avoid service.
There are benefits to a divorce by default, not the least of which is that the party who files usually gets to set the terms for property division and child custody because the other spouse fails to respond and counter their proposed terms.
Understanding what happens in a scenario in which one spouse opposes a divorce and wants to prevent it may help people more effectively plan their path forward when they want to end an unsustainable marriage. Seeking legal guidance accordingly is usually a good way to gain this important clarity.