Most Californians remember the sordid details behind the end of the marriage between our former "governator," Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife of 25 years, Maria Shriver. The couple announced their separation back in 2011, not long after Schwarzenegger's governorship ended. The announcement came after it was revealed that he had fathered a child with the family's housekeeper. Shriver filed for divorce that same year.
Many people assume that, four years later, the couple is now officially divorced. However, Schwarzenegger has reportedly not signed the papers.
This brings up the question of what kind of recourse a California resident has if his or her spouse decides to hold up the process. Spouses can file a default judgment against their estranged partner. A spouse can also file something called an "At Issue Memorandum" asking the court to set a date for a trial. However, if the divorce is uncontested, the couple likely intended to avoid a trial.
The couple can also opt for mediation, which can speed things up. However, if one spouse is deliberately stalling, that may not be a viable option.
It's possible for a person to be held in contempt of court and face other sanctions for failing to respond to a divorce petition. If necessary, a court can proceed with the divorce even if one party refuses to participate.
While cases like this aren't common, particularly when there are significant assets involved. However, if you find yourself facing a recalcitrant estranged spouse who refuses to sign divorce papers, it's important to know that there are steps that you can take. Your California family law attorney can advise you about your options and help you determine the best course of action.
Source: Huffington Post, "Arnold Schwarzenegger Still Hasn't Signed Four Year Old Divorce Papers: Can He Do That?," Brian Beltz, Oct. 16, 2015