What to Do about a Stalling Spouse
Divorce is rarely an expedient process, but there are many ways that parties to a split can make it take even longer. Whether out of spite, an unwillingness to compromise, or a desire to reunite, a stalling spouse can cause your divorce to stretch on for years and cost thousands more than it needs to due to mounting attorneys’ fees and court costs. If you’ve become the victim of a stalling spouse, there may be ways that you and your lawyer can address these delay tactics. Read on to learn how to cope with a stalling spouse, and contact a knowledgeable New Jersey divorce lawyer with any additional questions.
Keep an eye out for common delay tactics and try to identify the reason for the delay
Stall tactics can seem innocent at first, but they can quickly result in overwhelming costs and months of wasted time. Perhaps your spouse has repeatedly cancelled mediation sessions at the last minute, relying on flimsy excuses. Maybe they have repeatedly requested extensions for court-imposed deadlines. They may have changed their attorney repeatedly. Standing alone, these are fairly common in divorce litigation, but if you notice two or more attempts to delay the proceedings, they may be indications of stalling. Try to identify the reasons for your spouse’s delay so that you have a better chance of addressing them and moving forward. That said, try to avoid communicating with your spouse directly if you believe that they’re stalling; use the help of your attorney or a mediator.
Use court-imposed deadlines to force a spouse to respond
It’s important not to involve the judge more than necessary, but if you’re finding it impossible to get your spouse to respond to requests to schedule mediation sessions or for documents in discovery, then you may not have a choice. For example, your attorney could file a motion to compel discovery with the court, which could result in a monetary award for you if your spouse doesn’t respond. This will also provide notice to the court that your spouse has been obstructive in the divorce process. The most powerful court-imposed deadline is the one associated with a default judgment. If your spouse did not respond to your complaint for divorce by the official deadline, your attorney can help you file a motion for default judgment. This allows you to dictate how marital property and even parenting time should be divided between you and your spouse, though the court will ensure that it is reasonably fair to the defaulting spouse.
If all else fails, compromise as much as possible
You may reach a point where you’d do anything to be done with a divorce, including giving in on issues that once seemed important. Take a critical look at your spouse’s demands. If an issue isn’t extremely important to you, then let your spouse have what they’re requesting and move on. This may fix the issue entirely, but if not, then you’ll at least be able to come before the judge showing how generous you’ve been in meeting your spouse’s demands, to no avail. The court is more likely to be sympathetic to a party who has shown a willingness to compromise in order to move a case forward.
For assistance in filing for divorce in New Jersey, seek out professional, experienced, and trial-ready legal help for your case by contacting Union family law attorney John B. D’Alessandro at 908-964-0102.