Divorce is tough, and once the decision is made it can be quite some time before all is said and done. While it’s always best to take as much time as you need to understand the legal effects of your divorce, there could be some other reasons that your soon-to-be-ex isn’t willing to move as quickly as expected. These range from personal issues, like not wanting to let go, to financial considerations or stalling tactics designed to change the playing field in court. Here’s some reasons your spouse might be intentionally slowing down the process.
The 10-Year Mark Is Important for Social Security
Believe it or not, your spouse could be holding out for the ability to apply for Social Security benefits under the total amounts you earned over the course of your life. This could apply as soon as you reach retirement age (at 62) or seek disability assistance at any age. Baby Boomers and others nearing retirement age are especially likely to benefit from this if they make less than their current spouses. Even if you remarry, your ex could be entitled to use your lifetime earnings instead of their own as part of the Social Security retirement benefit calculation if you’ve been married at least 10 years.
If things are amenable, you may choose to hold out a little longer as there’s little drawback for you and a potential benefit for your spouse. Otherwise, the law does not require you to give them this ability by remaining married for a decade. The only requirements for this option are:
- The ex must be currently unmarried.
- The ex must be age 62 or older.
- You must be entitled to retirement or disability benefits under Social Security.
- The benefit your ex qualifies for without your income must be less than the benefit calculation that includes your work.
They May Be Struggling Emotionally With the Process
Even if your marriage lasted only a brief time, it’s entirely possible that your spouse isn’t all that willing to just let go. If you are still on amenable grounds, you may suggest counseling for your soon-to-be-ex or have a lawyer make the suggestion for you. Either way, remember that you are not responsible for alleviating your former partner’s emotional stresses, and you still need to protect yourself during the divorce process.
Things get even tougher when children are involved, and specialized counseling for children may be necessary to help get everyone through the process in a timely fashion with as little emotional trauma, or post-marital drama, as possible.
They Could Be Preparing a Defense
Some states allow defense to divorce filings, allowing a party presented with a fault divorce to attempt to change it to a no-fault proceeding. If your spouse has enlisted the assistance of an attorney, they could be going over potential defense options for any fault claims. In some cases, they may even be advised to wait a full 365 days to attempt to get a separation no-fault divorce instead of contesting the fault directly. The spouse could also be attempting to drag it out so that you agree to grant a connivance defense, changing the divorce to no-fault due to forgiveness for the fault.
It Could Be Simple Spite
Unfortunately, this is a worst-case scenario. Regardless of the emotional state of your soon-to-be-ex, they could be acting out of spite. If your spouse is making what seems like ludicrous requests of the court, they could be attempting to simply drive up your legal fees. If they’re trying to sell off or otherwise dispose of marital property, they may have a “scorched earth” revenge plan that makes them feel that ending up with nothing is worth giving you nothing from the divorce. These types of situations almost always require an experienced attorney to effectively untangle the claims and delays while protecting your interests.
These four tactics all vary widely in what they seek to gain and how you should address them with your soon-to-be-ex or legal advisor. Reading up on divorce or Social Security laws is only the first step in each of these situations. Remember to always take care to protect yourself and your assets, and don’t be afraid to seek out legal counsel when the need arises.
Author Information: Noah Rueis a writer, a digital nomad, and a graduate of the lessons of life (primary) and also the University of Idaho. These days, Noah teaches English as a second language in lovely Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and moonlights as a content strategist for an American based marketing company.