What if only one half of the couple wants to get divorced?
As divorce mediators, we often hear this question. Generally, both people know that their marriage is rocky. But often, only one spouse feels ready to end it. The reasons vary – maybe one person is more willing to deal with conflict than the other, or one person feels more ready to start fresh. Sometimes, it just takes one person longer than the other to accept that it is not working out. Still, as we tell our divorce mediation clients, if one spouse wants a divorce, it will usually happen. It may just take longer and be more complicated than if both parties agree.
Legally, the divorce process begins when one spouse files a divorce complaint in court. And even if the other party never responds, the divorce can still go forward. This kind of “divorce by default” is doable, but it's not in either party's best interest because the agreement doesn't include the kind of compromises that ensure that both people will follow through. It also involves expensive, time-consuming litigation.
A better approach is divorce mediation. In divorce mediation, a couple can develop an agreement on their own, according to their own timeline. Through mediation, couples work together to create an agreement on parenting and finances that works for them. Mediation focuses on reducing conflict and preserving some sort of working relationship. And either spouse can file the divorce complaint in court at any time during the process. Often, couples wait until the whole agreement is complete, and they can file on the court's faster “uncontested divorce” calendar. By saving time and money, divorce mediation is better for the couple and their family.
At Westfield Mediation, LLC, we offer a one-time consult to people who want to get divorced but don't think that their spouses are ready to go along. By providing information that they can then bring home to their reluctant partners, we try to pave the way to future mediation, and ultimately better resolutions.