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My Ex Won't Sign the Papers

Divorce

Learn what to do when your ex-spouse or the other parent will not sign the final orders or divorce decree.

If your ex-spouse or the other parent in your divorce or SAPCR refuses to sign the Final Decree of Divorce or Final Order, it can be difficult to know how to move forward. This article explains what to do if the other party refuses to sign the final decree or final orders. 

TexasLawHelp forms are not intended for contested cases. If your situation is not an agreed or default case, and the other party is not cooperating with you, you should get help from a family law lawyer.

Note: TexasLawHelp.org does not currently provide forms for a Motion to Sign.

Can I still get divorced if my ex refuses to sign a Final Decree of Divorce?

Yes. Your spouse does not have to sign the final decree for your divorce to be finalized.  In Texas, as long as one spouse believes the relationship cannot be fixed, the judge will grant the divorce. 

If your spouse refuses to participate in any part of the divorce and never files an answer after proper service, you can get a default divorce. Use the default instructions and forms from the following guides to learn more: 

If you filed for an “agreed divorce,” but now disagree on the terms of the divorce or your spouse now wants to prevent the divorce from happening, your case is now contested. If you can't resolve the issues, set your case for a final contested hearing.  

Read Uncontested and Contested Cases: The Difference to learn about the difference between a contested and uncontested case. Read How to Set a Contested Final Hearing to get forms and learn more about contested hearings. 

See Texas Family Code 6.001.

Can final SAPCR orders be made if the other parent refuses to participate or sign them?

Yes. If the other parent was properly served and did not file an answer, your case can be finished by default. To learn more about a default SAPCR, read and use the default instructions and forms in the following guides: 

If the SAPCR was first filed as an “agreed SAPCR,” but now there is a disagreement on the terms of custody, visitation, or support or the other party wants to stop the case, your case is now contested and should be set for a final contested hearing.

What do I do if my ex won’t sign the papers after mediation?

If you went to mediation and came to an agreement on the issues in your case, you may be able to get the final decree or orders entered by the court if certain requirements are met. 

First, did you and the other party come to an agreement on everything at issue in the case? If yes, go to the next step. 

Second, was the entire agreement written down in a Mediated Settlement Agreement (MSA) stating it is not subject to revocation? If yes, go to the next step. 

Next, did you and the other party both sign the MSA? If yes, keep reading. 

If these requirements are met, the MSA is binding. 

If the MSA is binding, you can file a Motion to Sign Judgment on Mediated Settlement Agreement. After a hearing, the court will enter a judgment on your MSA unless it finds that a party to the agreement was a victim of family violence or if the agreement permits a dangerous person around your child. A court will also not enter a judgment on a MSA if it is not in the best interests of the child. Read Mediation and Family Violence for more. 

Read Divorce and Mediation to learn more about MSAs and the role mediation plays in family law cases.  

See Texas Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 305 and Texas Family Code sections 153.0071(e), 201.007(a)(14), and 201.013(b).

Our MSA is not binding or resolves all of the issues. Can I still file a Motion to Sign?

No. If the MSA is not binding or doesn’t resolve all the issues, you cannot file a Motion to Sign. You can either sign and file a Rule 11 Agreement on the agreements made in the MSA or you will need to set the case for a final contested hearing.

What do I do if my ex won’t sign the papers after the final hearing?

Judges frequently make orders at the end of a trial and order one of the parties to draft a Final Decree or Final Orders reflecting the oral judgment. 

 If one party refuses to sign the final decree or orders after a trial because they want to avoid or do not agree with the outcome, you can file a Motion to Sign. This motion asks the court to sign the judgment that was made and make it a final judgment. 

When you file a Motion to Sign, a hearing is set on whether the judge should sign the decree and you must give notice to the other party. 

See Texas Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 305.

What do I do when I file a Motion to Sign?

You can either file your Motion to Sign in person or through e-filing. When filing a Motion to Sign, you must attach the proposed document you want the court to sign including any required additional documents. These may be: 

  • The proposed Final Decree of Divorce, 

  • The proposed Order in Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship,  

  • The proposed Order Modifying the Parent-Child Relationship, or 

  • The signed Mediated Settlement Agreement. 

You must also file a Notice of Final Hearing giving the other side at least 45 days’ notice of the final contested hearing. During the hearing, the court will decide if it should sign the proposed decree or orders. Read How to Set a Contested Final Hearing to get forms and learn more about contested hearings. 

Before setting your case for a contested final hearing, it is a good idea to hire a family law lawyer because contested hearings may be complicated. If you need help finding a lawyer, you can: 

Note: TexasLawHelp.org does not currently provide forms for a Motion to Sign.

Can I ask the judge to sign an agreement made outside of court or mediation that they now refuse to sign?

No. Any non-written and signed agreements made outside of court or mediation are not binding and you cannot force them to sign a proposed final decree or order with that agreement. You need to set your case for a contested final hearing. The court may order you to attend mediation if you have not already.

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