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Can I ask the judge to postpone our divorce?

October 11, 2017 Our Blog

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.

Can I ask his lawyer what’s going on if mine won’t respond?

You have plenty to be concerned about when you are in the midst of your divorce case that you don’t need to be left worrying about being able to communicate with your lawyer. In most instances, an experienced New York divorce lawyer maintains appropriate contact with a client. An attorney makes certain that a client is kept abreast of the status of the case and associated matters.

If you have found yourself in the uncommon situation of having a lawyer that truly is not responding to you in a timely and appropriate manner. You may be wondering what courses of action are available to you. For example, you may wonder if you can ask your spouse’s lawyer for an update on the case if you find yourself not getting a response from your lawyer.

Lawyer’s Requirement to Maintain Reasonable Contact with a Client

Your lawyer has an obligation to maintain reasonable contact with you in regard to your case. Specifically, your lawyer is requirement to communicate with you in a timely and effective manner, according to the American Bar Association.

Each state in the United States, including New York, maintains a code of conduct for lawyers. The code of professional conduct more specifically delineates the manner in which an attorney is to maintain contact with you in your case.

Communication By You with Opposing Counsel

The code of professional conduct for attorneys in New York prohibits opposing counsel from communicating directly with you if you are represented by a lawyer. In simple terms, although your own lawyer may not be communicating with you effectively and in a timely manner, opposing counsel cannot communicate directly with you. The failure of your lawyer to provide you proper information about your case does not permit opposing counsel the ability to communicate with you or provide information to you.

Solutions to a Situation in Which Your Attorney is Not Properly Communicating

The fact that opposing counsel cannot appropriately communicate with you under these circumstances does not mean you are left without a remedy. The first step that you need to seriously consider taking is terminating the services of the lawyer who currently is on your case.

Your current lawyer is going to have to file what is known as a motion to withdraw from your case. That is filed with the court, a copy of the motion going to the attorney for your spouse. The court has to approve your attorney’s withdrawal from the case. Particularly if the divorce proceedings have only just commenced, or you have never before sought to terminate a lawyer, the court is likely to approve the motion to withdraw. However, there can be circumstances in which a court might elect to require a lawyer to remain on a case.

If your legal counsel truly is not providing you appropriate advisements about your case, if there really is a failure in communication by your attorney, you can file a complaint with the attorney discipline and grievance committee assigned to your part of the state of the New York. You an obtain information on the attorney discipline and grievance committee serving your region in the state from the New York state courts website.

Retain New Counsel

Another step that you can take when faced with a lawyer that is not communicating properly with you is to retain alternate counsel. As has been explained a moment ago, the court in your divorce case will need to approve the withdrawal of your existing counsel and his or her replacement by a new attorney. You will need to send a written communication to your existing attorney advising that you no longer desire to be represented in your case by that individual.

If you really do have a bona fide issue with your attorney failing to communicate properly with you, the court in your divorce case is not likely to prevent you from changing lawyers.



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