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“What’s taking so long?” is a question I often get asked by men and fathers going through a divorce. You may have thought about splitting up for months, maybe years, so once you made the decision to proceed it’s natural that you want the whole, painful process to be over and behind you as quickly as possible.

It’s unfortunate but even a “quickie divorce” can take months to conclude. Part of the reason behind the delay is a crowded court calendar. There are a lot of cases and only so many family law judges and court rooms. Part of the reason is that people who try representing themselves in a divorce don’t know how the legal system works or how their position must be expressed, how to properly fill out documents or how-to argument in court so they slow things down even more. Part of the reason can lie on the shoulders of one of the two people ending their marriage.

If you and your spouse cannot agree on a settlement or custody and visitation issues, your case can slow to a snail’s pace. Honesty, compromise and cooperation are the keys to ending your marriage as quickly as possible. Here are four of the main reasons a divorce can seem as if it’s taking forever.

1. Someone doesn’t cooperate.

If your soon-to-be ex-wife feels bitter or resentful, she may try to punish you by delaying the process.

It might be by not providing information or responding to a question we pose through her lawyer until the very last minute as a deadline loom. Or she may argue endlessly about small matters such as who takes possession of a chair. I’ve even seen a spouse suddenly object to things she previously agreed to. All of this slows down the process.

One of our jobs as lawyers for men in New Jersey is to stay on top of the process to move it along as quickly as we can, eventually forcing it into court if needed.

2. Can’t agree on custody.

Understandably, child support, child custody and visitation can become very emotional issues for both parents. And unless the children are very young, their desires need to be considered, as well.

Traditionally, giving custody to the mother was routine. But in recent years, courts have been more willing to consider granting sole or shared custody to the father providing doing so would be in the best interests of the children. As lawyers who handle divorce for men in New Jersey, one of the first questions we ask a new client is what is their goal regarding the children.

Sometimes, mothers dig in their heels about custody so we often suggest joint or shared custody. Unless she is acting completely unreasonable, often this is a way to end a deadlock over custody and children.

3. Pushing for a fast settlement.

This would seem to be counterintuitive. While I always try to wrap up a case as quickly and as reasonably possible, I’ve encountered situations where a wife is pushing very hard for an extremely fast wrap-up. It raises a red flag for me.

Often, I’ve found that this means she is hiding something that, if it became known, would change the final outcome and terms of a divorce. It could be an extramarital affair you aren’t aware of that may possibly affect who obtains custody of the children. I’ve seen situations where a working wife has received a promotion or raise that could change your spousal or child support obligations but she wants to maximize what you will have to pay. Other times, it has been a recent inheritance she does not want you to know about so she can keep its value out of the financial settlement.

As a New Jersey family law firm for men, we can spot when this might be happening and have experience keeping the negotiations and final agreement fair, reasonable and on-track.

4. The case is complicated.

While many divorces are fairly simple to resolve, some are unusually complicated. The couple may have significant assets including both marital and vacation homes, a sizeable retirement account especially if both people work or they own a business. There may be investments, fine art or collectables, and so on.

Each step in a complex case can take months to resolve as both sides go back and forth, and at times an independent valuation may be required. All of this will delay the overall timeframe for completing a divorce action even if you and your wife are cooperating.

5. Her lawyer complicates the process.

While it isn’t common, there are a few family law firms in New Jersey that try delaying the process to increase their billing. If we sense that your wife’s attorney is doing this, we will have a quiet word with them about moving things along. Throwing up needless roadblocks is unprofessional and unethical.

There can be legitimate reasons for trying to extend a divorce case. But, more often, when a wife is slowing things down deliberately, it is misguided and hindering a speedy conclusion to a complicated process. If you or someone you know is contemplating a divorce and want to discuss how long it may take, feel free to call the family law firm for men in New Jersey at either 973.562.0100 in Nutley or, in Montclair, at 862.245.4620.

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