What Happens When One Spouse Doesn’t Want a Divorce?

What Happens When One Spouse Doesn’t Want a Divorce?

Navigating Divorce Dynamics: Mutual Agreement vs. Unilateral Decision

In many divorces, both spouses acknowledge the impending end of their marriage and collaboratively choose a resolution process, such as mediation or the collaborative approach. However, in other divorces, there’s no mutual understanding. One spouse may have contemplated ending the marriage for months or even years, while the other is unaware of the extent of the issues and wishes to preserve the marriage.

Such scenarios are common, especially when the wife desires a divorce, having made repeated efforts to resolve marital problems with her husband. Despite her attempts, no significant changes occur, prompting the wife to take decisive steps to end the unhappy marriage.

Initiating Legal Action: The Wife’s Dilemma

Perhaps she received a referral to an attorney who had previously represented a colleague in a divorce. They informed her that initiating a court action by serving her husband with a Summons with Notice in an Action for Divorce would compel him to address the situation.

This approach might seem appealing to the wife, as her previous pleas have been ineffective. Enlisting a process server to present the Summons when her husband is coming or going from home or work could grab his attention. However, what the wife may not realize is that when her husband is served with the Summons, he may feel bombarded, frightened, angry, distrustful, and various other emotions. This emotional response may hinder the effectiveness of the wife’s desire for a swift divorce.

Navigating Divorce: Strategic Steps Before Filing

During the time clients come to me in these situations I never advise that they file for divorce first. That needs to be a last resort. Alternatively, here are three options I will propose first:

  1. Let me instruct you to having a more productive discussion with your spouse and let him know that you want the marriage to end and the method that you believe would work best. If you aren’t comfortable having this discussion on by yourself, I’ll propose you schedule an appointment both of you to see a couple’s counselor and have the discussion at your appointment.
  2. When they aren’t open to the concept of divorce, I will send them a letter stating that you have retained an attorney and that you are dedicated to a non-aggressive divorce and to keep it out of court, but that we require their cooperation.  I will send your them a link to a website that they can use to find a non-aggressive attorney and request that an attorney gets a hold of with me inside of two weeks.
  3. When I do not hear from their attorney within that time period, it might be time to file the Summons with the court so we can start the divorce action. In accordance with Arizona law, I have 120 days until we serve them with the Summons so that allows me time to follow-up on my letter 1 to 2 more times to see if we may move things onward.

Fostering Understanding and Trust

In my experience, your spouse is likely to take my letters seriously, understanding the importance of taking action instead of waiting for a change of heart. This can lead to a shift, recognizing a preference for a friendly divorce and the commitment of attorneys to avoid court. This builds trust and ensures an agreement that benefits both parties and the children. Realizing the need for divorce can be emotionally challenging, especially if not communicated. For help in discussing and ending your marriage amicably without going to court, contact Moshier Law.


  1. Vacca, Andrea. “How to Get Divorced When Your Spouse Doesn’t Want to End the Marriage.No Court Divorce Blog, 17 Dec. 2019, www.newyorkdivorcelawyerblog.com/how-to-get-divorced-when-your-spouse-doesnt-want-to-end-the-marriage/.

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Moshier Law services all of Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona. Jennifer and her team of professionals seek to resolve Family Law cases efficiently with your goals in mind.

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