How Many Times Can A Divorce Be Postponed Navigating divorce can be a prolonged and arduous journey, often taking more time than anticipated. Most individuals hope for a swift resolution to their divorce, but this isn’t always the reality. Clients frequently inquire about the timeline for their divorce, which hinges on the cooperation and motivation of both spouses. A divorce can reach a conclusion relatively quickly when both parties are motivated and fair. Conversely, if one spouse resorts to obstructionist tactics, the divorce process may extend over several years.
Mandatory Waiting Period
In many states, a mandatory waiting period is imposed during divorce proceedings to allow both parties time to reflect on their decision. Even in uncontested divorces, where both spouses are willing to proceed, a compulsory waiting period of 30 to 90 days is typically mandated before the court can legally grant the divorce. This waiting period exists to provide an opportunity for reconsideration. If one spouse is opposed to the divorce, this period can be extended due to protracted negotiations and the reluctant spouse needing additional time to come to terms with the divorce. A competent divorce attorney won’t rush the process but will navigate it thoughtfully.
Reasons for Divorce Delay by a Spouse
There are various motives behind a spouse’s decision to delay divorce:
- Desire to Salvage the Marriage: Some individuals cling to the hope of saving the marriage with more time.
- Vindictive Motives: Anger over the failed marriage may drive a spouse to prolong the divorce, seeking control in the process.
- Financial Manipulation: A malevolent tactic involves hiding assets, withholding financial information, running up attorney fees, evading child support, and denying access to shared properties.
- Financial Concerns: Worries about financial independence or gaining an upper hand in financial negotiations may lead to delays.
- Custody and Visitation Worries: Genuine concerns about child custody and visitation arrangements can also extend the divorce process.
Common Delay Tactics Employed by Spouses
Spouses may employ various tactics to prolong divorce proceedings, including:
- Misusing Discovery: Filing numerous motions and requests to gather extensive data can slow down the process.
- Requesting Continuances: A spouse may request a new trial date, claiming inadequate preparation time.
- Breaking Agreements: Verbal agreements on living arrangements or financial matters can be abruptly violated, leading to court involvement.
- False Accusations: Accusations of abuse or neglect can result in court-appointed investigations, further delaying proceedings.
- Forcing Motions for Financial Data: You may need to file motions to obtain accurate financial information if your spouse is uncooperative.
- Frequent Rescheduling: Last-minute rearrangements of meetings and appointments can disrupt schedules and create delays.
- Refusal to Sign Documents: Failure to sign divorce papers can halt progress until both parties agree.
- Switching Attorneys: Repeatedly changing legal representation can extend the process.
Dealing with Spousal Delay Strategies
To address your spouse’s efforts to delay the divorce:
- Request a Final Hearing Date: If your spouse unnecessarily prolongs the process, consider scheduling a final trial. While it doesn’t guarantee a trial, it can prompt settlement discussions.
- Seek a Scheduling Order: File a motion for a court-issued scheduling order, outlining timelines for discovery and trial. This discourages continuances.
- Mediation Request: Request court-ordered mediation to expedite settlement discussions and bypass delay tactics.
- Sanctions: If your spouse ignores court orders or deadlines, request the court to impose legal or financial consequences and seek compensation for additional legal expenses caused by their delays.
Courts may also award attorneys’ fees if one spouse abuses the divorce process deliberately. While delays are frustrating, meticulous handling of complex legal issues and disputes during divorce is essential to protect your interests and those of your children.