Filing for divorce will result in stress. It’s inevitable. One of the questions you’ll have to answer when filing for divorce is exactly how you go about it: will you present the case for a no-fault divorce, or will you point the finger at your partner for contributing to the demise of your relationship? If you choose the latter, you might have a long road ahead. Choose the former, and it might be easier on both of you–but you might come away with fewer assets when all is said and done.

What if your partner won’t sign the divorce papers? Does it make any difference? Yes and no.

No one wants to endure drawn-out divorce proceedings, but that’s exactly what might happen if your partner refuses to sign the papers or disputes the hows and whys. If a partner won’t even respond to the divorce request, then matters can quickly become even messier.

Don’t worry: you can still get a divorce. The judge will likely handle it in one of two ways. The judge might proceed with an uncontested divorce, or perhaps allow you to file a default divorce. You’ll only be allowed an uncontested divorce if the divorce petition and response have both been properly filed. In this case, your spouse most likely refused to agree to and sign the final divorce papers, in which case the court may proceed with the divorce as though it was uncontested. This becomes more likely if your spouse fails to show up in court.

A default divorce may occur if your spouse doesn’t respond either to the initial request to file for divorce or the eventual terms of the divorce. Your spouse usually has a month to respond to your petition. If that doesn’t happen, then you may be allowed to file for a default divorce.

In such a case, you will be assigned a court date during which you must show up. The judge will hear the facts of the case–as you outline them–and then make a judgment based on the merit of your arguments.

This means there is no benefit to ignoring a partner who wants a divorce or refusing to sign divorce papers. A divorce will still occur. In fact, by refusing to be part of the process, your partner is actively giving up his or her rights to fight against a potentially damaging judgment.