Delay Tactics During Your Texas Divorce
Delay Tactics During Your Texas Divorce
There may be a multitude of reasons for why a Texas spouse may be delaying their potential or ongoing divorce matter. While we will save an analysis of the motivation for another day, we would like to discuss some of the common delay tactics used in a divorce and how to combat those tactics.
- Refusing to Sign Paperwork in an “Agreed Divorce”
Often, we have a potential client come to the consultation with the belief and understanding that all terms of the divorce have been decided between the parties and all that is left to do is sign the Final Decree of Divorce. Our office files the Original Petition for Divorce and a Waiver of Service and Final Decree of Divorce are sent to the other spouse. We wait. And wait. And no signature is received and the divorce is stalled. The Ramos Law Group attempts to keep costs low and will work with you to avoid needing service, but we will advocate for moving forward with personal service if your spouse refuses to sign or acknowledge the divorce papers.
- Avoiding Service
Whether you moved on to needing service after your spouse refused to sign off on an Uncontested Divorce or if you began the divorce processing knowing service would be necessary, properly executed personal service on your spouse is required to proceed with the divorce proceedings. If a spouse cannot be personally served, there will be additional steps needed to proceed. Avoiding service will include not answering the door, avoiding work or a residence, and other methods of subterfuge. If a party continuously avoids service and repeated efforts have been made, a Texas divorce court has the power to allow substituted or alternative service. This can include leaving the service paperwork on a front door or serving a known associate. Our office will work with a process server on your behalf and file whatever motions are appropriate to ensure service avoidance does not derail your divorce.
- Canceling Court Settings or Mediation
Life gets in the way of legal proceedings. People get sick or have a death in the family. There are frequent legitimate reasons for a hearing to be reset or mediation to be rescheduled. Many litigants will take advantage of an attorney or judge’s kindness and frequently reset hearings or cancel depositions or mediations at the last second.
While the Ramos Law Group is understanding of life circumstances, we will take active measures if excuses become habitual. This may include requesting a preferentially set hearing that cannot be rescheduled or getting the Court to order mediation be conducted on a set date and time. That way, even if a party fails to appear, we will be able to obtain relief in the form of sanctions, attorney fees, or other forms for our clients.
- Refusing to Answer or Timely Respond to Discovery
Discovery in a Texas divorce is the process through which the litigants obtain evidence and information – financial records, social media records, retirement documents, etc. There are strict deadlines by which the discovery process must be concluded and a timeframe in which answers must be provided. A difficult litigant rarely timely and fully answers discovery. Discovery is one of the most frequent delays in the divorce process. Does this mean if your spouse fails to comply you are unable to obtain the desired information? Certainly not.
Failure to respond to discovery entirely or failure to fully respond to discovery can result in a multitude of negative impacts on the non-compliant spouse’s case. This can mean sanctions, attorney’s fees awarded to you, or pleadings stricken (meaning they do not have the proper legal foundation). Our firm will file a Motion to Compel on your behalf, requesting compliance and showing the Court the deficiencies of the other’s party’s responses.
- Having Ineffective Counsel
The Houston area is truly blessed with a wonderful number of competent family law attorneys. That being said, some attorneys are more responsive than others. It might not be your spouse that is only causing delays, but their nonresponsive or avoidant counsel may be helping in causing delay. This can be done by not answering emails, refusing to cooperate in scheduling depositions or mediations, or failing to answer discovery.
We cannot force your spouse to hire better counsel, as much as we may desire to do so. We can keep opposing counsel accountable in the various ways mentioned above. Our firm prides itself on its efficiency and competency. We take deadlines very seriously and expect the same of our opposing counsel.
As you can see, there are quite a few ways a non-committal spouse or difficult spouse can attempt to delay divorce proceedings. We cannot prevent the delay tactic attempts but we can use the full arsenal afforded to us as attorneys to mitigate the damage from these stalling tactics. If you have any questions on the terms discussed in this article or would like to schedule a consultation, please contact the Ramos Law Group, PLLC at (713) 225-6200 today.