Chad Johnson Refuses to Sign Divorce Papers: Can This Really Halt the Divorce Process?

NFL Pro-bowler Chad Johnson isn’t willing to let go of his marriage to estranged wife Evelyn Lozada, even though the Basketball Wives star recently served him with divorce papers. According to TMZ, Johnson (formerly known as Chad Ochocinco) has reportedly vowed not to participate in any divorce proceedings or sign divorce papers in the hopes he can still win back Lozada.

The two were only married on the 4th of July, with their wedding filmed for a planned reality series that has since been abandoned. Lozada filed for divorce shortly after an alleged incident of domestic violence that landed Johnson in jail and Lozada with a 3-inch gash on her forehead.

In addition to seeking a divorce, Lozada also wants Johnson to take responsibility for his actions. “It is my sincere hope that he seeks the help he needs to overcome his troubles. Domestic violence is not okay and hopefully my taking a stand will help encourage other women to break their silence as well,” she told TMZ.

It sounds like a short, troubled marriage for the two, but what about Johnson’s plan to stop the divorce by refusing to participate or acknowledge it? In Florida, where Lozada filed the papers, Lozada can have the divorce finalized with the permission of a judge — and without the participation (or cooperation) of Johnson.

And if the pair lived in New Jersey? The same basic legal principle applies. While it’s easier to petition for a divorce when both parties are in agreement, you can file a New Jersey Complaint for Divorce on your own as a lawsuit against your spouse. By law, the spouse/defendant has a certain time to answer the complaint, but if no answer is filed within a certain time frame, and if the papers had been properly served, the plaintiff is allowed to proceed with his or her case. It may not be the most ideal situation, but a divorce can eventually be granted.

It should also be acknowledged that sometimes there are good reasons for one partner to want to avoid another during the divorce process, especially in the case of emotional or physical abuse. If you’ve been victimized by your spouse, take steps to protect yourself before filing. Consider obtaining a restraining order and secure your personal safety and financial assets first. Filing for a restraining order will not preclude you from getting a divorce, but does put in place certain safeguards to make getting a divorce a less stressful ordeal.

It is unclear if Lozada obtained a restraining order against Johnson as part of her divorce filing, but we do that in the Complaint she summed up their marriage in two powerful words: “irretrievably broken.”