Divorce Delayed: What to Do When Your Ex is Dragging Their Feet
The end is near. You’ve made the difficult decision to dissolve your marriage and move on with your life. However, despite your best efforts, the divorce proceedings seem stuck in molasses.
Your soon-to-be ex uses every tactic imaginable to intentionally delay your divorce. Like a magician performing an endless series of tricks, they find new ways to keep you trapped in marital purgatory.
You’re drained, frustrated, and ready to be free. Unfortunately, you can’t control your ex or speed up the process alone. So what’s the solution? How do you counter manipulative delay tactics and finally close this challenging chapter?
While you may feel powerless, all hope is not lost. With the right strategy and legal support, you can take back control. Read on to discover key steps you can take when divorce is delayed.
Why Would a Spouse Intentionally Delay Divorce?
When a spouse intentionally delays a divorce in Minnesota, their motivations usually fall into a few key categories. One motivation is that the spouse may simply not be emotionally ready for such an enormous life change.
Dragging their feet allows more time to process the impending reality. Another reason is that the soon-to-be-ex might harbor hopes of reconciling the relationship. By postponing divorce, they think time itself could help revive the marriage.
Strategic financial or child custody advantages may also incentivize delay for some spouses. Drawing out proceedings could give them leverage for more favorable settlements or custody arrangements. Finally, spite or the desire for control motivates deliberate obstruction in some cases. Hampering the divorce helps them regain power or get revenge on their partner.
While understanding the possible motivations provides useful context, it certainly doesn’t justify intentionally impeding a legal process.
Six Sneaky Tactics Spouses Use to Delay Divorce
When one spouse wants a divorce but the other spouse doesn’t, they may resort to various delay tactics to intentionally drag out the process. Here are some of the most common ways a stubborn spouse may try to delay a divorce:
Stalling on Signing and Returning Paperwork
One of the most straightforward delay methods is your spouse dragging their feet on signing and returning critical divorce paperwork in a timely manner. This includes filings like the petition or complaint for dissolution of marriage, financial affidavits, property division proposals, divorce settlement agreements, and more.
Your stubborn spouse may claim they need weeks or even months to thoroughly analyze complex financial factors, business interests, real estate holdings, stock options, retirement accounts, and other assets before agreeing to or signing anything. But even relatively minor paperwork delays of a few weeks can quickly snowball, preventing forward progress.
They may also intentionally “lose” papers, claim they never received items you know were delivered, or say they mistakenly threw away documents to stall signing.
Repeatedly Rescheduling or Skipping Mediation and Negotiation Meetings
If you and your spouse are attempting to negotiate divorce terms through formal mediation sessions, four-way settlement meetings with attorneys present, or informal discussions between just the two of you, they may start finding last-minute excuses to cancel, reschedule, or simply not show up for scheduled meetings.
Without good faith face-to-face negotiations to earnestly hash out critical divorce details like property division, spousal maintenance calculations, child custody and visitation schedules, and more, the process slows to a crawling pace. Each skipped or missed meeting significantly hampers progress.
Making Excessive Financial and Document Requests
While requesting access to copies of important financial statements, tax returns, bank records, business documents, and other fiscal information is perfectly standard in a divorce, your spouse may attempt to overwhelm you with overly broad, exhaustive requests well beyond what is reasonable.
Their aim is to bury you in time-consuming paperwork demands and indefinitely delay proceedings by claiming they still need additional documents. If you’ve already fully complied with initial requests and furnished all pertinent financial records, be wary of follow-up document requests that seem aimed at deliberate stalling rather than clarifying legitimate issues.
Taking Every Minor Issue Back Before the Judge
Your stubborn spouse may adopt an aggressive legal strategy of filing excessive petitions, motions, and requests over already settled issues or taking even the smallest disagreements back before the judge repeatedly.
This forces you into numerous time-consuming additional court appearances to rehash minor issues unrelated to the core custody, child support, spousal maintenance, and property division matters at hand. It derails real progress and adds unnecessary litigation costs to both parties.
Making False Accusations and Allegations
One of the most damaging delay tactics is your spouse making fabricated, false accusations of abuse, addiction, infidelity, criminal activity, or other fictitious claims against you. They may believe manufacturing completely bogus allegations will bog you down in lengthy court battles to defend yourself, buying them more time to build a stronger case for full custody of children or a greater share of assets.
Having to defend yourself in court against salacious lies, even when the absurd claims are ultimately dismissed, can significantly extend the divorce process and rack up legal expenses. Your spouse hopes the threat of public embarrassment will pressure you to cave to their demands.
Refusing to Communicate or Negotiate
Finally, silent treatment is another straightforward delaying method. Your stubborn spouse may refuse to communicate with you or your family law attorney entirely or refuse to honestly negotiate in good faith over essential divorce terms. Without basic cooperation, it’s nearly impossible to finalize critical divorce details like property and debt division.
Stonewalling brings the process to a grinding halt and leaves you stuck in limbo without temporary support orders or a custody schedule in place. It prolongs finalizing the divorce indefinitely until you concede to their position.
How to Effectively Respond to a Stalling Spouse
When dealing with a partner determined to delay your divorce, having legal counsel at your side is essential.
Here are some steps an attorney may recommend:
- Send formal notices. Your divorce lawyer can issue sternly worded notices when your spouse misses appointments, disregards requests, or fails to respond to filings within the allotted time frames. This puts them on warning.
- File motions. If gentle nudging doesn’t work, your attorney can petition the court to compel your spouse to cooperate. Noncompliance may result in sanctions or penalties.
- Subpoena financial records. Getting a judge to order your spouse to turn over tax returns, bank statements, credit reports, business records, etc., unveils any hidden assets or income.
- Schedule status conferences. Frequent check-ins with the court keep your case actively moving forward and make your spouse provide explanations for any lagging progress.
- Request temporary orders. Asking for temporary child support, spousal support, asset division, and custody orders limits how much your spouse can use delay to their advantage.
- Pursue bifurcation. Separating certain issues (like dissolving marital status) from the rest of divorce proceedings takes this decision out of your spouse’s hands so part of the case can be finalized.
- Consider mediation. Even if it already failed once, a new mediator may facilitate a satisfactory compromise between you and your reluctant spouse.
- Prepare a thorough response. Meticulously rebutting each questionable claim or allegation your spouse raises demonstrates you won’t stand for stalling shenanigans.
- Suggest a parenting coordinator. Appointing this neutral third party to oversee custody disputes and co-parenting may encourage your spouse to cooperate so as not to look uncooperative.
With an assertive approach and dedicated counsel, you can curtail common divorce delay tactics.
Talk to a Minneapolis Divorce Lawyer Today
At Martine Law, our compassionate Minneapolis divorce attorneys have seen every trick in the book when it comes to stalling spouses and nightmare divorce scenarios. We know how to outmaneuver attempts to slow down or manipulate proceedings.
Our legal team helps ensure your rights are protected, and your children’s best interests come first, no matter what underhanded tactics your spouse employs. We focus on achieving fair outcomes through assertive representation and mediation.
If your partner is intentionally delaying your Minnesota divorce, contact our office today to schedule a case review. Our lawyers will evaluate your situation, explain your options, and start formulating an aggressive response plan. The sooner we can curb any delay methods, the faster we can get you divorced so you can move on with your life. Contact us to get started.