Getting a divorce is tough, but it's even tougher when one spouse refuses to leave based on religious grounds. However, all is not lost for the spouse who wants a divorce. It could be that the dispute really isn't about ending the marriage, and even if it is, that does not mean you have to give up. You have options.
Ask About Annulment
It is possible that your spouse is fine with breaking up but refusing the divorce because of how divorce is seen in his or her religion. You need to find out if the objection, then, is to the end of the marriage or to just the specific legal issue of divorce. If ending the marriage is something the spouse is willing to do, an annulment might work.
Annulments are like divorces in that they end a marriage. However, they are not like divorces completely; they remove records of the marriage and make the marriage not a thing of the past but a thing that no longer exists. These are more common for people who haven't been married very long. The procedure is slightly different, too, in that you have to prove that one or more of a number of incidents happened in the marriage. Luckily, these can be as simple as noting that you and your spouse had different views on something that you never discussed fully before getting married.
They Can't Stop You
If the end of the marriage really is a problem for your spouse, remember that he or she can't stop you from divorcing. In the United States, if one spouse wants to leave a marriage, he or she can even if the other spouse doesn't want to. The process may take longer and require more paperwork, but in the end, you can still go. However, be aware that your religious organization may have different ideas and may consider you persona non grata if you get a divorce that isn't sanctioned by the religious organization.
Tell Your Lawyer About the Religious Issue
It's important that you tell the lawyer you hire to handle your divorce about the religious objections. In some cases there's nothing the lawyer can do (such as when a spouse refuses to agree to a divorce based on a vague claim that it's against his or her religion), but other times the lawyer can include any religion-specific issues in the civil divorce case, such as when one spouse is required to give the other spouse something that signifies they are divorced in the eyes of a religious community. For example, in orthodox Jewish families, even if a woman gets a civil divorce, she can't remarry within Judaism unless her husband gives her a "get," which releases her from the religious marriage. Sometimes the civil court can order the spouse to hand over the "get."
You need to get a divorce lawyer quickly if you are trying to divorce someone who isn't cooperating, religion or not. Don't try to navigate this alone. A good lawyer can make the process as smooth as possible. Contact a firm like Bergermann Law Firm for assistance.