You’ve filed the divorce complaint and already have a property settlement in mind, and better yet, you think your soon-to-be-ex will be on board with it because you and she discussed it before you filed. In fact, she and you agreed that only you would hire an attorney, to save money.
You have your divorce attorney draft the agreement and send it to your ex. Because you’re on fairly amicable terms with her, you text her to let her know to expect it. After a week, though, there’s no response. You text her to follow up, but she doesn’t respond. Before you know it, the weeks are passing, you’ve lost all communication with her, there is no agreement, and you are still married. How did this happen?
Unfortunately, many people find themselves in this situation when they file for divorce. What seemed to be an easy process turns into a stagnant state of nothingness – no progress on any aspect of the divorce. This often happens because the spouse who refrained from hiring an attorney, most often to avoid the expense, gets freaked out. An attorney they don’t know is sending them a proposal, and even if they want to agree to it, they feel it might not be fair. Likewise, they want the divorce, but they’re afraid to sign off on anything. Fear plays into much of that spouse’s inaction.
The solution? You should strongly consider urging your spouse to consult, or even hire, an attorney. While the image of attorneys on both sides might conjure mental images of prolonged courtroom battles, in reality, having two attorneys involved often aids settlement talks. This is because each attorney advises their client as to what he or she can realistically expect, and helps encourage negotiations. Attorneys also provide a neutral platform for communication. While attorneys will advocate for their individual clients, they generally strive to leave emotions out of the picture when corresponding with each other.
Even if you and your unrepresented spouse are close to settlement, it doesn’t hurt for her to hire an attorney to relieve any doubts and provide confidence moving forward with the settlement. While there is the slim chance an attorney entering later in the game can delay things and even throw off your plan, their presence should at least get your spouse to participate in the proceedings. For more practical advice on divorce, please don’t hesitate to contact the family law attorneys at Petrelli Previtera Schimmel.