Unilateral Divorce in California cover photo

Navigating Unilateral Divorce: When Your Spouse Doesn’t Consent in California

Divorce is a path often taken by mutual agreement, but what happens when one spouse refuses to consent or participate in the process? In California, it is possible to proceed with a divorce even if your spouse is unwilling or cannot be located. Understanding the laws and procedures that govern such situations can alleviate some of the stress and uncertainty involved.

Divorce Without Spousal Consent

What the Law Says: California is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that the consent of both parties is not required to dissolve a marriage. A spouse’s lack of consent or unwillingness to engage in the divorce process does not prevent the other spouse from obtaining a divorce.

The Process: When one spouse files for divorce (the petitioner), the other spouse (the respondent) must be served with divorce papers. If the respondent does not agree to the divorce or respond within the legal timeframe (usually 30 days), the petitioner can request a default judgment from the court.

Handling a Spouse Who Doesn’t Want a Divorce

Filing for Default: If your spouse does not respond to the divorce petition, you can file for a default. This means the divorce process can continue without the respondent’s participation, and the court may grant the divorce based on the petitioner’s terms.

Court Hearings and Decisions: In a default situation, the court may decide on issues like property division, spousal support, and child custody without the respondent’s input, often adhering closely to the petitioner’s requests in the original divorce filing.

What if Your Spouse Can’t Be Located?

Due Diligence in Locating a Spouse: If your spouse can’t be located, you must show the court that you have made reasonable efforts to find them. This includes searching in places where your spouse is likely to be found, checking with relatives and friends, and using social media or private investigators if necessary.

Service by Publication: When a spouse cannot be located, the court may allow the petitioner to serve the divorce papers by publication. This typically involves placing a notice in a newspaper where the missing spouse was last known to reside.

Legal Considerations and Steps to Take

Seek Legal Advice: It’s important to consult with a family law attorney who can guide you through the process of obtaining a divorce without your spouse’s consent or when they cannot be located. An attorney can help ensure all legal requirements are met and that your rights are protected.

Prepare Your Documentation: Gather all necessary financial documents, property records, and information regarding debts and assets. This information will be essential for the court to make decisions in your case.

Understand the Implications: Realize that proceeding without your spouse’s consent or participation can have long-term implications, especially regarding property division, debt responsibility, and matters involving children. A thorough legal strategy is crucial.

Call Us Today

If you are considering a divorce in California but your spouse does not consent or cannot be found, Contact Us for Your Consultation at Jafari Law and Mediation Office. Our experienced attorneys can provide the guidance and representation you need to navigate this challenging situation and move forward with your life.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. All information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only.


If your spouse is evading service, you can request an alternative method of service from the court, such as service by publication

The timeline can vary, but it generally takes longer than a standard divorce due to the additional steps required to attempt to locate your spouse and the possibility of service by publication.

It is possible for a spouse to contest a default divorce judgment, but there are strict timelines and legal grounds that must be met for a successful challenge.

The court will divide property based on state law and the information provided by the petitioner. However, the court may take extra caution in default cases, ensuring that the absent spouse’s rights are not unduly compromised.

No, California is a no-fault divorce state. You do not need to prove fault or get your spouse’s consent to obtain a divorce.
View All

Get Your Consultation Today

(310) 880-4541

Follow Us

    Contact Us

    Follow Us

    Call Now Button