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Postponing a divorce can be a costly thing, both financially and emotionally. Once a couple has agreed that a divorce is the proper course of action, both parties should act swiftly with the goal of keeping the relationship a positive one. Especially in the case of couples with children, your relationship is not usually completely over after the divorce is final. You have mutual family and friends who you’ll still be interacting with, you more than likely will see each other around town, and if you have children you will be responsible for their care together. It’s best to keep things as amicable as possible, and delaying proceedings can do serious damage to that.
If you have a valid reason to postpone the divorce, you’ll need to file a motion for a continuance. Depending on the state you live in and their laws governing divorce, several things can happen once the motion is filed. In some states, you have to obtain permission from the other party before filing. If permission is given, the judge will sign and the new hearing will be scheduled. If the other party does not give permission, a hearing on the motion will have to occur. Here the judge will listen to both party’s reasoning for wanting the continuance or not and make a decision based on that. In other states it is at the judge’s discretion after the motion for continuance is filed to approve or deny it. There is no hearing involved.
A judge will only approve a continuance in a divorce for valid reasons. These reasons can include scheduling conflicts for one party or their legal counsel, an intention to reconcile, more time needed for preparation, etc. In some cases, a spouse will try to delay the proceedings out of spite or because they don’t want the divorce, and judges know that. They will not approve a continuance without a very good reason for it.
There are many reasons why judges will deny motions for continuance if they feel they are frivolous. Delays mean more money spent on legal fees by both parties. Lawyers are not cheap, and a delay adds more work hours onto their bill.
Sometimes a spouse will delay the divorce just to cause aggravation to the other spouse out of spite. Other times one spouse may not be happy about the split of their marriage. They may delay the proceedings in the hopes the other spouse will change their mind.
There are quite a few reasons why postponing a divorce can be bad for both parties. The financial strain it causes can lead to both parties becoming hostile, which is never good in a divorce. Hostility makes it harder for the parties to agree on the terms of the divorce, such as financial disbursement, custody, transfer of property, etc. It makes divorces take even longer and get much uglier, which can be traumatic for all parties involved.
Postponing a divorce can also bring more friends and family into the process. The people close to you, while well meaning, will have strong opinions on the dissolution of the marriage and what the results will be for you. People who love you will sometimes think you deserve more than what the law states, which can affect your disposition towards a settlement and make you seek out more than what you’re entitled to. This can jam things up further and make thinks harder on everyone.
It is inevitable that at least one of the spouses will move on to another lover once the couple separates. It is a natural process when a person suddenly experiences loneliness or emptiness to seek out another person to fill that void. When this happens before a divorce is final, it puts a huge strain on the divorce proceedings. The other spouse will be hurt and could act out during the proceedings, either verbally or through legal actions regarding the case. Often the new partner will also have strong feelings and opinions on the details of the settlement, which can cause the spouse to seek more than they are entitled to.
It is always best to move a divorce along as quickly and efficiently as possible. It will avoid more conflict than is necessary, stress on all parties involved, and avoidable financial strain on both parties.