Making the painstaking decision to go through the process of a divorce is difficult enough for those involved. While in many instances divorce proceedings can go smoothly and efficiently, there are several ways spouses can use delay tactics as a means to stall or drag out the entire process. Understanding the most common delay tactics seen in Texas divorces can help newly separated couples know what to look out for when they are concerned about the length of time their divorce is taking to process.
Divorce Delay Tactics
There are many different reasons why a spouse may want to delay the divorce process. Everything from unhappiness about the decision to split up, fear of losing spousal support, and child custody arrangements can all be reasons why delay tactics are used when spouses separate. Regardless of logic, there are several delay tactics soon-to-be ex-spouses can utilize in order to drag out a divorce, some of the most common of which include:
Refusal to Sign Divorce Paperwork and/or Avoiding Service of Process
A divorce can be stalled in the event a spouse refuses to sign the necessary paperwork. The spouse seeking a divorce may assume all agreed-upon terms of the separation will be formalized once the other spouse signs the paperwork; however, that party can make the decision to refuse to sign or delay the signing of these legally binding documents.
When a spouse refuses to sign a waiver of service of the initial petition for divorce, properly executed personal service on this party will then be required in order to move forward. Some spouses will go to great lengths to avoid service, including employing various methods such as not answering their door or phone calls, avoiding work, and more. In the event, the responding spouse cannot be personally served, other additional steps may be necessary in order to continue the divorce process. If they continue to avoid service after repeated attempts, the court can choose to permit substituted or alternative service measures.
Filing Frivolous Motions
While refusing to sign the documents needed to move forward with a divorce can cause delays, filing multiple frivolous motions or legal requests can also slow family court proceedings. This can inundate the other party with unnecessary legal paperwork as a form of retribution or in an attempt to gain a legal advantage.
Canceling or Rescheduling Mediation or Court Proceedings
While life brings unexpected challenges that can require the rescheduling or cancelation of mediation and/or court proceedings, disgruntled ex-spouses may attempt to take advantage of this to continuously reset hearings or cancel mediations at the last minute. These habitual methods of rescheduling may result in the need to set a hearing date that cannot be rescheduled or requesting the court order mediation to be conducted on a specific date and time.
Failing to Timely Respond to Discovery
A commonly utilized means of delaying a divorce involves a party failing to timely respond to discovery. Discovery is a particularly important part of the Texas divorce process that involves obtaining crucial information, such as financial records, social media records, retirement documentation, and more from the other party. This process comes with strict deadlines for responding. In delaying a divorce, a party will rarely fully respond to discovery in a timely manner – and, even if timely, the responses will be vague and incomplete, riddled with objections. Failure to respond to discovery entirely can have negative impacts on the non-compliant spouse and can further delay the divorce process entirely.
Changes in Legal Counsel
Unfortunately, changing legal counsel during a divorce can happen for many different reasons. A party may feel they are not being well represented by their current lawyer or may want to find a more aggressive attorney. However, when a spouse decides to change their legal counsel, divorce proceedings must then be placed on hold, further delaying the process.
Brazoria County Divorce Attorneys
Going through a divorce can be a difficult process for those involved for a myriad of different reasons. Despite this, however, some parties may attempt to further delay the proceedings – whether intentionally or unintentionally – making it that much more difficult to move forward. When this happens, it’s important to have an experienced Texas divorce attorney by your side to ensure your needs are being met in a timely and efficient manner. At Terry & Roberts, our Brazoria County divorce lawyers can provide clear, caring, and practical legal guidance to ensure the best possible outcome for your family. Contact our office today for more information on how we can help.