How Can I Get the Process Moving if my Ex won’t Budge?
There is the old saying that it takes two to tango. And whether we like it or not, both parties are crucial to organising post-separation details.
For many reasons, one party to a break-up might prove to be quite unhelpful – leaving the other person to carry the lion’s share of divorce paperwork, property settlement meetings, and/or child-related negotiations. Our four-step strategy for moving the process along can help you in your dealings with the ex.
Step 1 – Empower yourself
Rather than focus on all of the things that your ex-partner is failing to assist with, find out from the start which elements of the post-separation process you can actually handle yourself.
For example, there may be financial documents that you can start to collect without the help of your ex-spouse, or a list you can write setting out the current arrangements for children.
Your family lawyer will have excellent pointers on the types of documents and meetings that you can get working on yourself. This doesn’t mean that you will necessarily have to do all of the work. Rather, it will help you to become clearer in your own mind about which aspects of the process you can control and those which need extra input.
Step 2 – Establish your communication plan
Separation and divorce can be very emotional times, particularly when one person is ‘dragging the chain’. It is understandable if sometimes our blood boils with frustration!
To prevent unnecessary upset, set out a clear communication strategy for yourself, based upon your knowledge of the overall situation. For example, if your ex-spouse is content to talk civilly about the divorce itself, this might be something that you decide you will do face-to-face on most occasions.
But if there are problems with having a sensible discussion about the children or items of property for example, it could be wise to create an email/ letter-only strategy on these issues.
If you have any doubts about the right communication strategy for your circumstances, an expert family lawyer can talk you through the best options.
Step 3 – Keep it moving
Even the smallest sign of progress from an unhelpful ex-spouse should be seen as a step in the right direction.
Bearing in mind your ultimate goal of getting the loose ends of the break-up sorted out, it is important to notice and build upon each step forward.
Sometimes when a breakthrough is made – such as the signing of paperwork – you can be so stunned you forget what you were going to do next! Having a list of goals that you can cross off as they are achieved helps you to keep up the momentum, by reminding you about what needs to happen next.
After a lot of resistance by your ex-partner, the temptation can be there to roll the eyes and say “finally!” when they actually cooperate. The best way to keep the process moving in a forward direction however is to maintain calm and pleasant communication with your ex. Easier said than done sometimes, we understand – but important nonetheless!
Step 4 – Regularly revise
It can be very disappointing when your best efforts to coax your ex through the process are continuously unsuccessful. Keep in regular touch with your family lawyer for advice and tips on how to approach any impasse.
Constant resistance might indicate that a change of tack is needed. For example, splitting the family home might become a hot button topic, with a move to written communication being indicated for a period of time.
You might also need to change the way that you empower yourself throughout the divorce and/or property settlement processes. If the emotional toll has become significant, it can be best to back away and take a short break from the strategy. You could also choose to divert your attention from a divisive Christmas holiday issue for example, and turn to a non-contentious property-related task instead.
Revising your strategy as needed makes good sense, particularly when you have tried a number of angles and your ex will not budge at all.
You’re not alone
Remember that the resolution of these issues is not your sole responsibility. There were two people involved in this relationship and one way or another, both will need to complete at least some tasks in order to help finalisation. Never despair – family law is designed to assist you in resolving those issues that just don’t seem to be fixable.
If your ex seems to be immoveable, our four-step strategy can help give you the right tools to empower yourself, communicate well, keep things moving and change direction if required. It can certainly be a testing time – and our family lawyers are happy to walk beside you and your family as you tackle this journey.