Breakups are seldom mutual — even for married couples. If your spouse is against getting divorced, you may wonder how to begin the process.

Today, certain legal measures have been put in place to allow one spouse to proceed with a divorce — whether the decision is mutual or not. If you may be involved in a divorce that is not mutual, read on to learn about your options.

If one spouse refuses to divorce

Before the 1970’s, married parties were required to provide a reason for a marriage’s end in order to divorce. Specifically, the reason had to align with one of the state’s qualifying faults, such as adultery.

Today, however, all 50 states offer some version of no-fault divorce. This allows either spouse to file for a blameless divorce, in which neither party has committed a specific act that led to the decision to divorce.

Unlike other states, Michigan does not offer at-fault divorce options. However, if your spouse caused the divorce by acts such as adultery or domestic abuse, alerting the judge of these issues and their financial impact may result in a more favorable divorce settlement.

Unsigned divorce papers

If you or your spouse has filed for divorce, unsigned papers won’t stop the divorce from happening.

The spouse who has not filed for divorce will typically receive a summons and a complaint for divorce. These will include a deadline to answer the divorce complaint.

If the spouse ignores the papers or fails to participate in proceedings, the court may find the spouse in default. This leaves the judge to establish a divorce order according to the conditions set in the filing spouse’s petition to divorce.

In military divorces, a service member may be allowed an extended period of time to answer and participate in divorce proceedings.

If one spouse has threatened the other

If a spouse has threatened that he or she will take advantage of the other spouse’s assets or child, filing for ex parte orders may be an option. Ex parte orders can be requested for:

  • Preventing a spouse from spending or getting rid of marital assets
  • A temporary child custody order
  • A temporary protective (restraining) order

If a judge approves an ex parte order, it will go into effect immediately. The spouse receiving the order has 14 days to object the order. Otherwise, the order will likely remain effective until the divorce is settled.

Stopping a divorce that has commenced

If you and your spouse agree that you would like to stop the divorce and restore the marriage, you may ask the court to dismiss the divorce after the papers have been filed.

If the summons has not been answered, the spouse who filed for divorce can file the dismissal form. If a response has been filed, both spouses are required to sign the dismissal form.

If you are considering a divorce, talk to an attorney to learn more about the process. An attorney can guide you through divorce issues, such as property division and a child custody arrangement. You may also be able to establish a protective order and other preventative measures prior to your divorce if need be.