When Only One Spouse Wants a Divorce

You need two people to get married, but in Connecticut, you only need one person to get divorced.

If you are the spouse who does not want the divorce, this can seem patently unfair. You may think that if you ignore it, it will go away.  But Connecticut has now added a procedure that allows the person who filed the divorce to finalize the entire case even if you don’t participate. If you want some say in how things end up, you are then forced to participate in a process that you don’t want.  To add insult to injury, if you fight against the divorce you might delay the final hearing but you could end up spending a lot of money and energy fighting, and you will still end up divorced.  Additionally, if you are focused on not getting divorced, instead of thinking about what you want out of the divorce, you could end up with less of what you would like than what you could have had if you had been thinking more about what you wanted to end up with.  You may also just be in shock, if the news of a divorce is a surprise.  No matter what situation you are in, if your spouse wants the divorce, you cannot prevent it; this is a powerless and frustrating position to be in. Thus, to avoid a bad settlement, you will need to accept what is happening, participate, and state what you want.  Working in mediation or the collaborative process can soften the experience somewhat because you will have more say over when and where you meet, and the pace of the process.  Because meetings take place in offices instead of a courtroom, it can seem less intimidating as well at a time when you feel vulnerable.

If you are the spouse who wants the divorce, you may feel like the process is taking too long, and that your spouse is causing delay and thus costing you too much money. This dynamic can create resentment.  You may also feel like you cannot even be friendly or kind to your spouse for fear of causing confusion and sending mixed messages. This can make the person who didn’t want the divorce feel even worse. You may be told to give your spouse time to adjust to your decision to divorce, but this can feel very frustrating, especially if you have been thinking about the divorce for a while and feel like you have already waited long enough.  However, in order to get divorced in the least amount of time and for the least amount of money, slowing down to let your spouse catch up is usually what is needed.  This is especially true if news of a divorce is a surprise to your spouse; he or she will need time to accept and digest the news so that they can participate. That being said, using a process that will help both of you is beneficial.  Mediation and collaboration can offer you a process and a path forward, while at the same time supporting your spouse so that he or she can move forward as well.

In summary,  if you didn’t want the divorce, you may feel like the process is moving too quickly, and every bit of progress toward the divorce is moving you in the direction you don’t want to go.  If you want the divorce, you may feel like the process is moving too slowly, and that this pace is the fault of your spouse.  The most efficient way to proceed is to find a speed that both of you can tolerate.  You don’t have to like the pace, and probably won’t, but the divorce usually will be less expensive and shorter if you are both participating. Mediation and collaboration can provide a structure to help both of you move forward in a constructive way.