What happens if one spouse wants a divorce, but the other doesn't?
While both parties are generally involved in a separation, it does not necessarily require the agreement or consent of both spouses. This is true whether you are legally married or in a common-law relationship. It is possible for one spouse to unilaterally initiate the separation process without the other spouse's approval or cooperation.
Demonstrating Intent to Live Apart
The key component in demonstrating separation is the clear intention to live separate and apart as a couple. This intention can be demonstrated in several ways, such as one party physically moving out of the shared residence or significant changes in the shared household routine that signals an end to cohabitation.
Maintaining separate finances can also provide concrete evidence of a separation. This might involve separating joint bank accounts, credit cards, or other financial resources. Alternatively, the partner initiating the separation might start taking sole responsibility for their own expenses. These changes help to create a financial divide that supports the case for separation.
Another important aspect is ceasing intimate relations. This can be a difficult area to establish given its private nature, but discontinuing a sexual relationship is often an indicator of a marital breakdown. Courts may consider a range of factors when determining whether this has occurred, such as changes in sleeping arrangements and social interactions.
Additionally, the overall spousal-like relationship is discontinued. This could mean changes in daily routines, discontinuing family outings or activities, and no longer presenting as a couple to family, friends, and the public.
Communicating Intentions to the Other Spouse
Clear communication is crucial in this process. The spouse initiating the separation should inform the other spouse about their intentions, even if it's not a requirement. This can help prevent potential confusion and conflict and prepare both parties for the upcoming changes.
The other spouse may not wish to separate or may disagree with the decision, but their agreement is not necessary for the separation to occur. Their refusal does not prevent the legal process from moving forward.