What If My Former Spouse Is Dragging Out The Divorce
Once you have filed for a divorce, most couples want the process completed as soon as possible to allow them to move on and focus on their future. When a spouse decides to drag out a divorce, this can be frustrating and infuriating for the other party and their family.
A spouse may attempt to delay the divorce process purely because they are not ready to face the concept of their marriage breaking down or out of spite to punish their ex. However, sometimes spouses may have underlying motives to drag out a divorce. For example, additional time before an inventory of marital assets can allow a spouse to hide assets that may be considered community property to ensure they don’t have to be divided with the other spouse.
Similarly, an ex could attempt to deliberately destroy marital property rather than allow their former spouse access to it. It could also be beneficial to delay the completion of a divorce if a spouse would like to maintain the current arrangement they have through temporary orders.
Whether your spouse has calculated motives or is just trying to be difficult, a delayed divorce can be both stressful and costly. An experienced family law attorney can help you use formal legal processes and persuasive negotiation to encourage your spouse to cooperate and allow the divorce to move forward.
Skillern Firm’s divorce attorneys empathize with spouses struggling with an uncooperative ex. We know divorce is usually a stressful time for anyone, even when it runs smoothly. The impact of delays and complications in the process can significantly affect a spouse, their children, and the family around them.
We will always aim to use our expert negotiation skills to find common ground with our client’s exes and convince them to engage in the divorce, as this can be the most efficient approach and avoids creating further animosity. However, if necessary, we will not hesitate to use the Texas court system to ensure you do not fall victim to stalling tactics.
To find out how we can help you to progress your divorce with a challenging ex, call Skillern Firm at 936-213-8479.
Reasons An Ex Might Delay A Divorce
Unfortunately, animosity and challenging exes are commonplace during a divorce. Sometimes a spouse may attempt to delay divorce proceedings in an effort to hide from the reality of the divorce and remain married. They may also drag out the process purely out of spite and to express their frustration and upset toward their ex-partner.
In addition to aiming to punish their ex with a delay, a former spouse could attempt to delay a divorce proceeding for other, more calculated reasons, including:
- To elongate temporary orders, including spousal support payments and child custody arrangements.
- To increase their ex’s attorney fees.
- To hide or destroy marital assets to avoid property division in the divorce.
How An Uncooperative Spouse Can Hinder Divorce Proceedings
A disgruntled spouse can use a variety of tactics to delay a contested divorce. Common tactics to drag out a divorce include frequently changing legal representation, making unreasonable demands, requesting extensions, not signing orders and court documents, and filing useless motions. Unfortunately, if not addressed firmly and promptly, these tactics can significantly delay the divorce process.
Once a spouse files a divorce petition with the court, the other spouse must be formally served with court papers. Avoiding service is a typical method spouses use to hide from or hinder a divorce. Without serving papers, your divorce can not progress any further.
However, if your spouse continues to avoid service, your lawyer could file a request for substituted service. With a court order approving substituted service, the filing spouse can serve their ex by other means, such as publication in a newspaper or serving another adult at their residence.
Filing Petty Claims
False accusations and petty claims are commonplace in contested divorces as a tactic to complicate and elongate the divorce process and discredit the other spouse.
One spouse may make allegations of adultery or domestic violence that require substantial time from the other spouse to disprove if false. Although disproving these allegations will likely elongate the divorce process, this is essential to ensure the court doesn’t view you poorly, which could be reflected in the final settlement.
In addition to a delay tactic, petty claims, and motions can be used by disgruntled exes to run up attorney fees for the other spouse. If this is suspected, your attorney may be able to petition the court to order your ex to pay your attorney fees for the petty claims. Not only will this recover your additional costs, but it will also discourage your ex from filing further claims and can help to speed up the process.
If a spouse refuses to reply to emails and communication, likely this will extend the amount of time required to complete your divorce. Spouses often ignore calls and emails or provide vague answers to slow the process. Depending on the stage you are in your divorce, there could be options available to keep momentum in your proceedings.
If your spouse has been served with the initial divorce papers and has not filed a response with the court within 20 days, you may be able to proceed with a divorce by default judgment. If no response or counterpetition is filed, your attorney can schedule a default judgment court hearing. In this hearing, if your spouse has still not responded, a Judge could grant your divorce without the need for your ex’s input.
If your spouse did respond to the initial divorce papers and you are not eligible for a default judgment, there could be other options available if your spouse is stalling through poor communication. Your lawyer can help you encourage communication and movement in your divorce through many strategies, including setting a trial date or filing motions.
Similarly, if your former spouse is avoiding or not complying with discovery, your attorney can file a motion to compel discovery with the court. If ignored, this can result in penalties for your ex, such as being found in contempt of court or required to pay the costs of discovery. Often this is a particularly beneficial approach for moving the process along.
How A Lawyer Could Help
A reputable divorce attorney will be familiar with the potential stalling tactics a spouse may use to hinder your divorce. A skilled lawyer can evaluate the specific circumstances of your divorce and your ex’s behavior and develop a strategy to combat their attempts to stall.
For example, requesting formal mediation and supporting court orders where necessary can be beneficial for facilitating discussion and making progress without a trial. Similarly, motions to compel and substitute service are useful legal tools to encourage progress. Your attorney could also secure court orders for your ex to cover your attorney fees if they have filed unnecessary motions, missed mediation, or canceled depositions.
In addition to the legal tools available to counter delay tactics, often an attorney who is a skilled negotiator can be beneficial for understanding your ex’s motivation, firmly encouraging progress, and avoiding additional legal processes.
Contact Skillern Firm To Get Your Divorce Moving
The divorce lawyers at Skillern Firm have years of experience working with difficult exes and are familiar with the tactics they could employ to delay the divorce process. If you are represented by Skillern Firm, your divorce attorney will aim to resolve complications and delays as swiftly as possible, without exacerbating tensions between you and your ex.
We understand that both trials and further litigation can be the last route many individuals want to go down during their divorce. Skillern Firm attorneys are expert negotiators who will do their utmost to ensure a successful and efficient divorce without any unnecessary legal action. However, if necessary, we will use the powerful legal tools available to progress your divorce.
If you are struggling with divorce delays, contact Skillern Firm today at 936-213-8479.