August 5, 2014

How To Handle A Reluctant Spouse In A Divorce

173298779When you are ready to start a divorce, nothing creates more frustration than the reluctant spouse.  How are you supposed to move forward with your life when your husband or wife doesn’t want a divorce?  Here is my advice for dealing with the spouse who is dragging their feet.

1.  Keep your long-term goals in the forefront, rather than taking short-term aggressive action.

A friend of mine from another state called me recently to tell me about her meeting with a divorce lawyer. My friend wants a divorce; her husband doesn’t. The lawyer said she ought to serve and file divorce papers on her husband and tell her three children about the divorce by herself so she controlled the story to the kids.

This kind of advice is what gives lawyers a bad name. Like most people with kids, my friend wants to protect them from conflict and have a good co-parenting relationship after the divorce. That means she has to work with her husband, not set up a firestorm of conflict by launching an aggressive attack.

 2. Get the right support to help your spouse.

A spouse who is not emotionally ready to handle a divorce can make the process difficult. It’s much more effective to connect with resources to help your spouse accept the divorce. If you have been in marriage counseling, you could enlist the counselor to facilitate conversations about your desire for a divorce and options for proceeding. Discernment counseling, which is a limited scope form of therapy, is another approach. Or you could work with a collaborative divorce coach, who is skilled at working with couples who are have a gap in their respective readiness to proceed with divorce.

 3.  Use the time to gather necessary financial documents. 

While you are letting your spouse play “catch up” emotionally, it helps to feel like you are taking steps to move forward. One task that has to happen is gathering financial information. You can contact a collaborative financial neutral to find out about their services and the information that will be needed. You can gather records, such as tax returns, mortgage documents, bank statements, and credit card statements. You can look into insurance costs as an individual and look into housing options. Gathering all the financial information usually takes some time, and there is no reason why you can’t get a start on that important step. It will make things go more quickly once you are ready to start the process.

It is rare for both spouses to be in the same place emotionally when deciding to end a marriage. If you can give your spouse some time and support to accept that the marriage is over, you gain a less frustrating divorce process and a foundation for a good working relationship as co-parents.

Kellie McConahayABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kellie McConahay
Attorney, McConahay Law Firm PC

Kellie McConahay is a collaborative attorney and mediator. After her own divorce, Kellie was inspired to create a law firm focused exclusively on helping families stay out of court. She experienced firsthand the pain, anger and fear at the beginning of a divorce, but the collaborative process brought healing and, eventually, joy to her family. Kellie knows the process chosen in a divorce, particularly with children, impacts every member of the family for years to come. You can learn more at www.McConahayLaw.com

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One Response to How To Handle A Reluctant Spouse In A Divorce

  1. Bruce Peck says:

    Collaborative practice now has a new resource – discernment counseling, which encourages both parties to slow down before moving forward, to allow both parties concerns to be heard. Reconciliation means healing, not simply going back into the marriage. It allows both parties the opportunity to get on the same page, whatever that page may be.

    Nice article, Kellie

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