Ways of Delaying Divorce

By Lindsay Kramer

Updated October 18, 2019

Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images

In many divorce cases, one of the partners does not actually want the marriage to end. This can drive that partner to attempt one or more delaying divorce tactics, including psychological manipulation attempts on a partner, refusal to comply with court orders and communication with the court seeking to postpone or cancel the divorce. Sometimes, these tactics are not employed in an attempt to save the marriage, but to manipulate one’s spouse into agreeing to certain divorce terms.

There are lots of reasons why an individual would want to delay divorce. Some consider delaying divorce for financial reasons. Others see delaying divorce to save marriages as a viable option. Every marriage, and by extension, every divorce, is unique. In some cases, delaying divorce can be beneficial to both parties and in others, it simply makes the divorce process more expensive, more complicated and more emotionally difficult.

Seeking Marital Counseling

One of the methods of delaying divorce to save marriages is pursuing marital counseling. In cases like this, the partner who suggests marital counseling often genuinely believes she can fix the problems present in her marriage and avoid divorce altogether. Sometimes this is possible; sometimes it is not.

Opting for Legal Separation

Legal separation is a legal status granted by the court that has some similarities to divorce, but does not actually end the marriage. Not all states recognize legal separations. Delaware, Florida, Texas, Georgia, Mississippi and Pennsylvania do not recognize legal separation. In states that do recognize legal separation, the process for obtaining one and the requirements it imposes on separated couples vary.

Basically, though, being legally separated means the parties live apart and according to the terms of their separation agreement. A legal separation agreement contains court orders similar to those found in a divorce settlement, such as a division of the couple’s marital assets and a child custody order.

Some couples choose legal separation permanently instead of divorce, while others choose it as a trial run to determine whether getting divorced is actually in their best interest. In cases like this, legal separation may be considered a strategy for delaying divorce for financial reasons because it makes it possible for a couple to systematically dismantle their marriage while individually saving funds to cover divorce proceedings.

Asking the Court to Postpone Proceedings

A spouse can also ask the court to postpone his divorce proceedings. Sometimes, this is done as a means of delaying divorce for financial reasons. It can also be used as a way of delaying divorce to save the marriage because when proceedings are postponed, couples have time to talk to each other, seek marital counseling and potentially work through the challenges in their marriages.

Requesting that a court date be postponed is known as applying for a continuance. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the continuance, it may be requested orally or in writing. The judge presiding over a case has the discretion to allow the continuance or to reject it. Generally, an individual seeking a continuance has a greater chance of having the continuance granted if he can demonstrate that he is seeking it in good faith and that he has otherwise been in compliance with the court’s orders.

Refusing to Comply With Court Orders

While a divorce is pending, the court may issue orders such as a requirement that the couple attend mediation sessions or that the spouse with control of the couple’s finances turn their financial data over to the court. Refusing to comply with court orders can stall the divorce process, effectively delaying a couple’s divorce. However, these delaying divorce tactics are an act of contempt of court and may subject the individual to court-imposed consequences.