How do I get things moving in my divorce?
September 7, 2016 1:52 PM   Subscribe

Need help in getting my soon-to-be-ex to cooperate with our divorce process under some stressful circumstances beyond my control.

I have been trying to get divorced for over 18 months now and have had some emotional difficulties in standing up for myself but I am now stronger and in fact I really am desperate to finalise the whole thing, but also having some serious difficulties in getting my ex to cooperate.

He keeps on asking to get back together, even though he has a relationship going with someone who was my friend since the start of this year. Tells me he didn't know he had a chance, so he started going out with her because he was alone, that he would give up on anything if I say he can still try, etc etc. But now there is a complicating factor: his girlfriend has cancer. She has undergone surgery last week and he went to stay with her, but I don't know any further details other than her surgery was preceded by a weekend at our former home (I no longer live there for a year, but have been to the house a few days ago) while I was overseas. I find it all quite appalling, but then it feels like this health situation of hers works both as a reason for me to wait and at the same time, a perfect justification for me to get out. I am confused regarding the morality of it all. Maybe I am caring too much when I shouldn't give a damn?

What I know is that I don't want to be a heartless b*tch and cause more stress to all parties involved BUT I really need to get out of this situation. I really can't take it anymore, being the third wheel in a relationship I don't even want to be in and have to put up with all this nonsense. I am suffering so badly due to this that not even my anti-depressants and sleeping meds seem to be working anymore. I keep on getting ill that I can barely exercise, which is what keeps me sane :(

I send him emails saying I want him to tell me what he wants to do about our property (whether he will pay my share or if we will sell it) but he just doesn't reply to any of them. I left forms to transfer the bills to his name at the house for him to sign several days ago and he just won't sign it saying he "didn't have time."

He said he wants me to have dinner with him tomorrow and I said yes because I want him to talk to me about practical details, as he is off travelling and I want to get things moving before he goes. But I fear there will be more of the debates about why this and that happened and less of the outcome I want. As you might have noticed I am not the confrontational type , but I also know I need to keep it friendly to get the stuff done. So what can I do to get him to cooperate?
posted by longjump to Human Relations (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In your previous ask you stated you found a divorce attorney. Is that person still advising you? As part of their representation you can ask that they communicate with your spouse and they would also know how to move forward on this if the spouse is playing games.

Your decision to move forward with the divorce has nothing to do with your husband's girlfriend's cancer. Regardless of how much guilt tripping he will try to do, it is not a viable reason for you to put your own life on hold.

I don't think the dinner will do you any good at this point. However, if you are intent on going to this dinner, bring all the forms you need with you for him to sign, but fully expect him to play more games and say he needs more time. None of your conversation should stray from anything but business of finalizing the divorce. If you don't think you can keep on topic, then any further contact is pointless.
posted by Karaage at 2:00 PM on September 7, 2016 [7 favorites]

There is no reason you should be interacting with this jerk at all. Get a lawyer (it sounds from your last question like you had one but have not been using them lately). Have the lawyer continue to kick the ball down the field. If your ex tries to end run the lawyer tell him that he had 18 months to work this out amicably but now it's time to wrap this up and he needs to talk with the lawyer. You don't have to live like this.
posted by jessamyn at 2:01 PM on September 7, 2016 [36 favorites]

Stop talking to him and start talking to your attorney.

That's it. This is only going in circles because you keep talking to him. Stop that. Let a professional communicate with him and direct your obligations to you ex from now on.

Between the vacations, the extra apartment in the city, his romances, his home stereo system... the only person feeling stress here is you. Move on, go no contact except to have contact with your divorce attorney.
posted by jbenben at 2:02 PM on September 7, 2016 [13 favorites]

"[Name], do you want me to be happy?"
pause for answer; regardless of whether it's Yes or No, proceed to:
"I am not happy in this relationship. I do not see any way to be happy in this relationship. Do you want me to be happy? Here are the steps."
pause for reply; if positive, do the steps; if negative, proceed to:
"Any future communications will be through my attorney. Here is their card."
stand up, leave
posted by Etrigan at 2:03 PM on September 7, 2016 [9 favorites]

You're not a heartless bitch. You are looking after your own needs and wants, which your almost-ex has shown he doesn't care about. At all. Whatever's going on with him and his girlfriend are his problems, and you are not obliged to care about those any more. You've tried being amiable and friendly. It's not working. On preview: nthing everyone who says you should get your lawyer involved.
posted by Janta at 2:06 PM on September 7, 2016 [9 favorites]

See your lawyer for dinner tomorrow.

Every time you talk to your ex, he puts you off and moves the goalposts. No. You don't have to keep things friendly. You can go totally neutral by blocking your ex completely and making that person communicate with your attorney. Just walk away.

Hey. Your attorney can take care of switching the bills.

Do you know what else?

You are already paying for stuff you should not be and being used! It will be no cheaper or more expensive to have a lawyer sort out the financials! Might even be cheaper in the long run!!

You are not saving money by staying friendly. Just wanted to point this out to you. You don't have to be mean!! Having an attorney handle this makes it all simply business! You are paying someone so you can go back to feeling neutral.

The relationship with your ex is finished. Stop funding his new life. Best to you moving forward.
posted by jbenben at 2:12 PM on September 7, 2016 [18 favorites]

Your lawyer should be handling the paperwork. Write it up with you keeping a majority of everything (or according to divorce law where you live) and if you feel generous you can make him a gift later.

I am trying to figure out a situation where it's not moral to divorce your husband while his girlfriend has cancer. If anything, you are freeing him up to marry her and provide insurance or whatever.
posted by warriorqueen at 2:19 PM on September 7, 2016 [6 favorites]

A divorce proceeding is a lawsuit. There are many ways to push lawsuits forward, including setting them for trial. He doesn't get to stonewall forever if you are willing to move forward with the legal process. Let your lawyer do this. Hoping that you can force him to the settlement table (which is what you are technically doing) isn't working. Ask your lawyer if there is mandatory mediation requirements - many jurisdictions require mediation in divorce cases.
posted by murrey at 2:31 PM on September 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

Talk to your lawyer about this, and see what she says about filing a petition for divorce asking for everything that you actually want, resolving matters in whatever way you prefer to have them resolved. This puts the ball in his court to respond and seek some other resolution. Or, if he doesn't show at all, to essentially agree to everything you've proposed. Law and procedure are more complicated than this, but talk to your lawyer about doing essentially this and see how the procedure in your jurisdiction works. Best case: you get everything you ask for. Worst case: he finally gets off the couch and replies, and you move towards a resolution. That's what you want, isn't it? So worst case is what you're actually looking for!

Best of luck, and I'm sorry you're in such a tangled web (that someone else wove).
posted by Capri at 2:33 PM on September 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

being the third wheel in a relationship I don't even want to be in and have to put up with all this nonsense

You need to reframe this. You are no longer in a relationship. You are not a third wheel. You are your own independent person and whatever is going on with your ex is NOT going on with you.

Only speak to them through your lawyer. Do not have dinner with them. Do not return their calls or emails or texts. Only communicate through your lawyer and serve them divorce papers.

I repeat - you are NOT in this relationship. Therefore you cannot be a third wheel.

If it helps, sort so that all of their emails go to a folder so that you don't see them. Change their name in the phone to "DO NOT ANSWER" and don't read them/listen to voicemails/answer the calls. No debates. No back and forth. No asking him to sign papers. Now your lawyer will do all of this.
posted by Crystalinne at 2:58 PM on September 7, 2016 [7 favorites]

Have your attorney file the papers for your divorce this week. As soon as I had the papers filed, it was a huge relief to be moving forward. Filing starts a time line that your attorney will stay on track of for you. Try to see the future you, happy, free and emotionally done with this marriage. It takes time, but you can get through this. It may feel like you're walking through a bog, just keep your eyes focused on what is in your best interest and march on.
posted by jennstra at 3:46 PM on September 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

No dinner. My gosh, the man has a girlfriend.

Your attorney ought to have all the information necessary for the initial filing by now. So, call them tonight and leave a message asking how quickly you can file. They'll call you back tomorrow and probably want to set an appointment so you can sign things. In my jurisdiction you can get this sort of thing done in a week, though I don't know about yours which is why you call them and ask that specific question tonight.

But most important other than the lawyer (who you are going to call tonight) is no dinner. He should be at her bedside or something anyway.

I recommend that you discuss your specific issue with thinking his welfare is still your responsibility with your therapist. I grant you permission to put off that phone call until the end of the week. Unless you end up going to this dinner, in which case you should seriously excuse yourself from the table in order to leave a message with the therapist.

Once you have sued someone you are excused, ethically, from being "nice." You are paying the court and your attorney in large part because "nice" isn't working and won't start working in any kind of a reasonable timeframe.
posted by SMPA at 4:00 PM on September 7, 2016 [5 favorites]

Right. After 18 months, it's beyond clear that this isn't going to be an amiable, cooperative legal parting, so just let that go. Reframe it so that it's just business, put your lawyer to work, and get it done.
posted by Sublimity at 4:07 PM on September 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Also: your lawyer is there to absorb all the emotionally wracking crap inherent to this process. We have lawyers to act and advocate for us when we can't do it for ourselves; smart lawyers always hire a good lawyer to handle their divorces, because they know they lack adequate emotional distance from the matter.

It's totally normal to find this distressing and uncomfortable and confusing and such. It's an awful process. The best coping mechanism is to hand over as much of it as possible to a nice, dispassionate professional.
posted by SMPA at 4:07 PM on September 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

"but then it feels like this health situation of hers works both as a reason for me to wait and at the same time, a perfect justification for me to get out."

You've already waited so long, and been through so much. If it's helpful to you in moving forward, consider that his girlfriend might be happy that her boyfriend is getting a divorce.
posted by Iris Gambol at 5:00 PM on September 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

Like everyone is saying, you give this to your lawyer. Call them up ASAP and say "I want to get divorced as soon as humanly possible. Please make this happen for me."

The lawyer will know the laws where you live regarding stuff like bills, property splitting, etc. lawyer will be able to get things signed, or know when STBXH forfeits his right to contest them.

You have the power to get this ball rolling (and honestly, depending on location, it may take longer than you think) but you have to decide to do it, and commit to it. Your relationship is dead. It is a lot easier to grieve, heal, and move on when you aren't still married to the cheating, lying adulterer.

He has no motive to get divorced, honestly. Its a hassle, and his last one got ugly. He certainly seems to not care about hurting you. So why shouldn't he string you along while he enjoys his girlfriend, home theater, and pleasure trips? Its just hurting you, not him.

And if his adultery partner is sick, tough. Not your problem. You have to take care of you, and staying in a dead marriage/involuntary threesome isn't the way to do that.

So do what is best for you: Get that lawyer, get them in charge of it, and wash your hands of the whole nasty mess.

I'm sorry you are going through this. I know it sucks and is scary and complicated and painful. But marching through it is so much better than drowning in it. You can do it, I promise. You are worth it.
posted by Jacen at 5:22 PM on September 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

Just think about it from an outsider's perspective. If anyone, ANYONE, came up to me and said, "I don't know if I should push for divorce because my HUSBAND'S GIRLFRIEND has cancer," I'd ask if they had eaten enough for the day, because they're obviously lightheaded.
posted by xingcat at 6:48 PM on September 7, 2016 [14 favorites]

IANYL. Not sure where you live, but in my US state there's no way to force a divorce other than skipping the settlement negotiation and going right to divorce court hearings. My partner's divorce took almost 5 years (yes, really) because his ex kept stalling things. If your ex is getting a better "deal" by negotiating with you rather than letting the court assign the settlement, suggesting that you'll go to court if the process isn't sped up might be an effective tactic.

Only speak to them through your lawyer. Do not have dinner with them. Do not return their calls or emails or texts. Only communicate through your lawyer and serve them divorce papers.

Again, IANYL, but this seems extreme. Unless the terms and conditions of the settlement are contentious, there's no reason to feel like you can't have an open line of civil communication between parties. I mean, at the very least communicating through lawyers exclusively would be expensive as hell!
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 8:50 AM on September 8, 2016

OP, your ex is highly effective at manipulating you, right down to the girlfriend's cancer diagnosis. Her diagnosis is NONE of your business and has nothing to do with your divorce. Your ex introduced the issue to distract you and to keep his influence and access to you. A regular person would not have notified you regarding any cancer diagnosis because it's not relevant to your divorce.

Only deal with your ex via an attorney. You are not qualified to handle his high level manipulations.

(This means you are a truly good person, btw. You should not be qualified to deal with the level of dishonesty you are facing! No one should! However, this is why legal professionals exist. And therapists. Because nice people like you need help dealing with high level manipulators like your ex. No shame, Nice Lady. You've done nothing wrong. You deserve help now. Best)
posted by jbenben at 10:21 AM on September 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

Thank you so much for your answers, sympathy and nice words everyone. Very much appreciated. <3
posted by longjump at 3:25 PM on September 9, 2016

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