What do you do if you want to get your divorce process moving along, but your spouse is stalling? You are not getting any cooperation. None. Well, I can tell you what did not work for me. Serving my ex-husband divorce papers at work – ouch. That did not go over very well. At the time it seemed like a good plan – I made sure he was not interrupted during a meeting, and that he was outside his office. Not sure what I was thinking really. For obvious reasons, it made him angry. Did I mention that it made him angry? Live and learn I say to my children; goes for me too. (And no, this example of living and learning was not shared with them!) I learned to delay making any big decisions when my emotions were running high.
No matter what has transpired between you and your ex, anything that can cause embarrassment either way, is not worth it. Take a couple days to cool down.
So, when your spouse is stalling, there is typically a reason. You need to find out what it is. What’s the motivation? Finances almost always have something to do with it. Divorce is not cheap – not at all. I did it the expensive way, but that’s for another post. Besides finances there are other reasons that are not so obvious.
In my case, a phone call at 1 am clarified everything. My ex-husband’s girlfriend rings, and then hangs up when I answer because she’s having regrets about making that late night phone call. (Doesn’t everyone know that everyone has call display?)
I call back, and what do you know. I get an earful from her… let’s call her Owl. Owl begins to tell me that I need to move on with my life because she’s living with Mr.X now and I need to get divorced. He’s never coming back to me. Move on, she says. Well well. Let me explain to you that I pushed and pushed for a separation agreement, but to no avail – no cooperation from Mr.X. So, after Owl let out her apparent frustration, a stunned Mr.X pulled the phone away from her ear to apologize to me for the outbreak. All this to tell you his motivation for stalling: Owl: a 40 something, never been married before female, whose clock is ticking, wants to get married. Mr. X is not ready for that commitment. Of course – how can he be if he’s not divorced? Why would he want to jump into another marriage so soon (even if he did probably make that promise – just a guess). It’s not for me to judge that relationship. But I can understand why he used me as the scape-goat. I’ll take it. I’ve got an amazing ability to take the high road. The clarity I received that night was worth being woken up at 1 am, even by Owl. Once I knew his motivation, things were much clearer to me.
The other way to move a stalling ex-spouse along the divorce continuum is to set a court date. Deadlines do amazing things. Even if you have zero intention of going to court (most of us want nothing, zippo, nada, to do with the court), it makes everyone suddenly work very hard to get an agreement in place. Worked for me. Maybe it can work for you too.