This week, we examine why your spouse could be delaying your divorce and common tactics used to delay the process from court date changes to requests for evidence. Here are three reasons why your spouse could be delaying your divorce:
- Your spouse doesn’t want a divorce. Some people simply don’t want their marriage to end and are holding on to the possibility that their union can be saved if only they had a little more time. This is perhaps the least manipulative reason to delay divorce; some people just have difficulty letting go or truly believe that they can patch up the marriage.
- Your spouse is acting out of bitterness. Other spouses are angry about the divorce and want to see their husband or wife suffer though months or years of a drawn-out process. These husbands and wives usually feel that the situation is out of their control, and delaying the divorce process is one way to feel in control.
- Your spouse is playing financial games. This is the most nefarious reason to delay a divorce: your husband or wife is trying to run up your attorney fees, leave you without living expenses, delay support payments, or hide his or her own assets. These spouses also often fight tooth and nail to keep you from receiving your fair settlement.
Divorce is difficult enough when your spouse isn’t continuing to play games and control your life. At the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny, our Seattle divorce attorneys will work with you to get your divorce settled quickly and justly. For more information, call us today at 425-460-0550.
Five Ways Your Spouse Could Delay the Washington Divorce Process
One of the most common questions we field from our clients is, “how long does the divorce process take?” Unfortunately, the answer depends heavily on how cooperative and motivated each party is. If both spouses are prompt and compromising, a divorce can happen relatively quickly. But if one spouse wishes to delay and drag out the process, it can take literally years to reach a final settlement. Now that we understand why your husband or wife might be dragging out the divorce, we turn to common tactics used to delay the divorce process. Here are five ways your spouse might attempt to drag out your Washington divorce:
Ways a Spouse May Prolong the Divorce Process
- Abusing the discovery process. It is normal for both sides to ask for evidence during the divorce process, but some spouses may drag out your divorce by filing excessive requests and motions. Suddenly, you are asked to produce huge amounts of information, bringing the process to a crawl.
- Asking for a continuance. Your spouse may tell the judge that he or she did not have enough time to prepare for a hearing and request a new date. While you need a good reason to file a continuance, your spouse may simply be able to say that he or she has not gotten legal advice yet.
- Going back on their word. Divorce usually involves verbal agreements of some kind between parties; for example, they may agree on who is staying in the home or which accounts should be used for expenses. If a spouse wishes to delay the divorce, he or she may suddenly go against a verbal agreement, causing new issues to arise.
- False accusations. In an especially acrimonious divorce, a spouse might accuse you of abuse or child neglect – and he or she may file a protection order. This can complicate both divorce and child custody.
- Forcing you to file motions. Your spouse may delay the process by hiding assets or other devious tricks, forcing you to file motions to collect accurate information about his or her finances. If your spouse doesn’t cooperate, this process could take significant time.
The Process of Divorcing an Unwilling Spouse in Washington
Many of my divorce cases involve two spouses who want to get divorced. They both recognize the marriage is over. But in other cases, one of the spouses is unwilling to accept the end of the marriage. It doesn't mean that a divorce isn't possible, but it does complicate things and can draw out the process longer. Divorcing an unwilling spouse requires patience and an understanding that it may take longer than you think it should.
Willing or Not, You Must Abide by Washington's Divorce Waiting Period
Washington is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that no one has to prove fault in order to get a divorce. All a petitioner must state is that the marriage is irretrievably broken. However, regardless of the no-fault law, you still must wait a minimum of 90 days before a judge will sign your divorce decree.
Even if your spouse were willing to get divorced, you would have to wait 90 days to finalize it. Because the spouse is unwilling to get divorced, the whole process takes longer. Negotiations may be more difficult and time-consuming. The unwilling spouse may need to take longer to accept the divorce is happening, and thus may need longer to make good decisions. A good divorce lawyer will not push an unwilling spouse too fast or too hard.
Can I Seek a Divorce by Default in Washington?
Washington requires the responding spouse to respond between 20 and 60 days of receiving the divorce papers. If the spouse simply does not respond, then you can seek a divorce by default.
You would have to file a Motion for Default and schedule a hearing during which a judge will decide whether to sign an Order of Default. After the judge signs your order, you must wait a total of 90 days from the date you filed the petition or from the date you served the petition before a judge is able to sign your divorce papers. And even then, your divorce may drag beyond the 90 days. There are many other factors that may slow the process, so make sure you work with a family law lawyer to address any challenges that arise.
Further, if your spouse appears at the default hearing, the judge may give him/her time to file the responsive pleadings and may decline to rule on the divorce at the time. This would further draw out the process.
Contact a Bellevue Divorce Attorney
Divorce is an emotional time. Sometimes people just need time to process it. If you are getting divorced – whether your spouse is willing or not – get legal representation. It's important to have a lawyer who can help you negotiate with your spouse and manage the legal process for you. At the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny, we do our best to ensure that your divorce is settled fairly and as quickly as possible. We are familiar with the above tactics and know how to approach solutions when a spouse wants to delay divorce. To learn more about our legal services or to schedule a consultation, please call today at 425-460-0550.