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Episode 05: Help, my divorce is stuck!

My divorce is taking forever. Now what?

In this Episode, CEO Erin Levine Discusses:

  • Are you sure you’re truly stuck? Most states require a waiting period between when you start a divorce and when it can be finalized. Divorce takes time – this is a process, not an event.
  • Making sure you have the info you need. Don’t make decisions without the right understanding or seeing all the related documentation.
  • Setting timelines with your ex, and building in an agreement that you’ll see a mediator if you’re still at an impasse by a certain date.
  • How to get help from the courts, and how to proceed with a default divorce if your ex truly won’t participate.

Actionable Steps You Can Take Right Now

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Read the transcript: Help, My Divorce is Stuck!

Today’s topic is how to get your divorce unstuck. So you feel totally stuck. All you want is closure and yet your divorce is lingering on and on. You’ve tried everything. You’ve tried nothing. You don’t have any clue what to do next. You have a list so long you don’t know where to start. Relate to any of these.

Okay, so first things first. Are you really stuck? To know me is to know that it drives me crazy that everywhere we look, divorce is seen as an event. The truth is, it really is a process. It takes time, both emotionally and legally. In fact, if it’s been a couple months since anything legal has moved forward with your case, you might actually be right on time. In most states, there’s a waiting period between when you start the divorce and when it can be finalized. So moving quicker doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll finalize your divorce any faster.

Now, I will say that many of our users and clients at Hello Divorce have really amicable divorces and so they finish the paperwork very quickly, turn it in, and put it behind them and then just wait for that six month waiting period to go by. But if you have any serious issues or issues that need to be resolved or if you’ve had complete and separate finances that need to be exchanged and documented, then it’s probably going to take awhile. But if your divorce is truly stuck and you’re not making any progress, here are some tips to make it move forward.

First of all, make sure you have the information you need. Divorce for many people is the most complex financial contract you will ever dissolve. Don’t go at it alone and don’t make decisions without seeing the goods. If your spouse has a retirement account, for example, don’t just rely on him or her to tell you the amount or where it exists. You need to get the documents to see what it is that both of you have so that you can decide how you want to divide the stuff.

The next thing you can do is set a timeline. If possible, by email or in person, get on the same page with your ex about a realistic timeline for the major events related to your divorce. Chances are, not always, your spouse wants to progress too, but either is paralyzed by fear or maybe you’ve just always been the doer and so we can’t expect that your spouse is now all of a sudden going to change personality traits.

Can you at least agree on dates for an exchange of proposals or offers or you can you agree that if you don’t come to a resolution by a certain date that you’ll get help from a mediator? At this time, you can also work on choosing a mediator, so if that happens where you can’t come to agreements on all issues, you’re ready to go.

Now, if you’re really stuck, you’ve reached an impasse, your spouse won’t go to mediation, won’t work with a service like Hello Divorce or a neutral lawyer, you can request that the court help you sort out issues that keep you from moving toward a resolution. Now it’s going to move slower because courts are very bogged down and you’re going to have to go through what is pretty much an inefficient process. But the court can help you reach resolution. So if you’re stuck and you really need some help, I suggest getting some legal coaching, spending a half hour or an hour with the lawyer to figure out what you can do to get help from the court.

And finally, in some states, if your spouse is not participating in the divorce, you can actually move forward without them. You can take what’s called a default. It’s some forms that you fill out to move forward with the divorce without their involvement. What I want you to remember is during this time of emotional and legal uncertainty, live in truth the best you can. Speak your mind about what matters to you and act with integrity toward your spouse no matter how painful the whole situation may feel. Focusing on being your best self can help ease that lost feeling that often comes with unwinding one of the most significant relationships of your life.

So it was great to have you today. Keep listening to this podcast for actionable tips and bite sized pieces to keep your divorce moving forward, amicable and affordable, and of course, to cover all of your legal basis so that you are ready for your fresh start.

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