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Updated: Can a Resistant Spouse Unreasonably Delay Divorce Proceedings?

 Posted on March 03, 2021 in Divorce

Novi contested divorce attorneyUPDATE: The information below continues to apply to many divorcing spouses. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has created additional delays in divorce cases. Spouses who are going through the divorce process should be aware that since the beginning of the health crisis, many courts have closed or have restricted the types of cases that are handled through in-person court appearances. In many cases, courts will only hold in-person hearings to address emergency matters. Spouses should check with their attorney and their local court if they need to address these types of emergencies, which may include petitions for orders of protection in situations involving domestic violence or requests for emergency child custody or parenting time orders that address children's safety and well-being. For non-emergency matters, courts may hold virtual hearings or conferences, allowing spouses to address other divorce-related issues without unreasonable delays. As more people become vaccinated, and the risks of infection decrease, courts will likely begin reopening for in-person proceedings, and spouses can work with their attorneys to determine the best ways to approach their case and address any delays.

Most people, once they have concluded that divorce is inevitable, want the whole process to be over and done with as quickly as possible. But what happens if one spouse tries to unreasonably delay the legal process? 

One spouse can definitely drag out divorce proceedings by contesting the divorce and endlessly dickering over settlement terms. But ultimately, they cannot stop a Michigan divorce from happening.  

Why a Spouse Might Try to Delay Divorce Proceedings

There are many valid reasons why one spouse might fight hard over certain terms of a divorce settlement and take a long time to reach a reasonable compromise. However, a spouse may also employ delaying tactics with less worthy motives. 

Here are some common reasons that one spouse might cause significant delays in divorce negotiations:

  • They still hope to save the marriage. 
  • They have developed strong opinions about how the children should be raised which are in direct opposition to their spouse‚Äôs beliefs. When a major rift of this sort has developed, child custody and parenting time decisions may take a long time to resolve. 
  • They are acting out of hurt, anger, or spite.
  • They are deeply concerned about their future financial security and want to fight for the largest possible share of marital assets.
  • They think they can use delaying tactics to put financial or emotional pressure on their spouse to agree to their terms. 
  • They are being pressured by their family or a new partner regarding certain settlement terms, such as spousal support payments.

It can be difficult to predict when and whether a given divorce will be subject to these types of stalling tactics. In such situations, an attorney skilled in collaborative divorce and mediation can be helpful in uncovering the underlying motivations and finding a solution that works for both spouses.

How Michigan Courts Handle Delays in Divorce Settlements

The administrative orders that govern the conduct of circuit court judges in Michigan state that divorce trials should take place within one year of the filing of the complaint. In other words, a couple has one year to try to resolve their issues through negotiation or mediation

After that, the judge is likely to order both parties to appear in court to argue their case. The judge will then make the final decisions about the terms of the divorce. The trial process could take about six more months, depending on how busy the court is. 

The bottom line is that even with the most recalcitrant spouse, one can reasonably expect that a Michigan divorce should be finalized in less than two years.

Seek Counsel From an Experienced Farmington Hills Divorce Lawyer

If you are considering divorce, contact a Novi, MI divorce attorney before taking any other action. At Elkouri Heath PLC, we have more than 20 years of experience in Michigan divorce law and are skilled in helping couples resolve the most difficult issues that arise in divorce negotiations. Call our office at 248-344-9700 for a free consultation.





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