What To Do If Your Spouse Is Intentionally Delaying Divorce in Arizona

Are you in the process of divorcing your spouse, but your ex is intentionally delaying divorce? Divorce is hard enough when both parties are on good terms, but that’s not often the case. As experienced divorce lawyers in Goodyear, AZ, Lincoln & Wenk can help you overcome a problematic spouse and get your divorce proceedings back on track. Keep reading to discover what options you have.

What Happens During a Divorce Proceeding in Arizona?

What happens when you initiate divorce proceedings in Arizona? Without a difficult spouse, you’ll likely undergo the following process:

  • File the petition: In Arizona, divorce proceedings start when one spouse files a petition for the dissolution of marriage, regardless of what the other spouse wants. It outlines the request for the division of assets, alimony, custody, and other terms.
  • Serve papers: Arizona requires a 60-day period after you file the petition until you can complete the divorce, but you can serve the papers to your spouse immediately. You can use a third party, like a sheriff, to serve the papers, and if your spouse lives in the state, they have 20 days to respond.
  • Disclosure: During the disclosure phase, both parties must reveal all their assets, debts, income, and everything else required for the process. If you need more information or believe your spouse is hiding assets, you can file a request for discovery.
  • Discovery: If you need more information about your spouse’s assets and other information, you can have your lawyers interview them and send subpoenas for the required details.
  • Negotiation and settlement: When you and your spouse can’t agree on the terms of the divorce, you’ll enter negotiations, which can take days, weeks, or even months. If you can’t agree, your case goes to court for a judge to decide.
  • Decree: When you and your ex come to an agreement about the divorce terms, the court issues a decree of dissolution of marriage. It finalizes the terms of the divorce and makes it public, but in Arizona, you cannot reach this phase in less than 60 days, regardless of how non-combative the process is.

Reasons Your Spouse May Attempt Delaying Divorce

If you can learn your ex’s motivations for intentionally delaying divorce, you may be able to connect with them for one last conflict resolution in both of your best interests. If that proves impossible, knowing why they’re delaying the divorce can help your lawyer determine the best approach to moving forward.

Mental and Emotional Harm

Divorce is emotionally and mentally painful, even under the best circumstances. Even if you’ve fought for your marriage and still love each other, you’ll feel moments where you want to get even with each other. If your spouse wants to hurt you emotionally or cause your depression and anxiety to grow worse, delaying the divorce is a relatively easy way for them to accomplish their goal.

As with most things in your divorce, avoid retaliating or sinking to their level. Obvious attempts to hinder divorce proceedings ultimately backfire, so try to endure it, record everything they do, and wait for your spouse to hurt their cause.

Reframing the Reasons for Divorce

If your spouse has a reputation to maintain or an influential position, they might delay the process to give them time to manage the community’s perception of them or even dig up dirt on you to shift focus away from them. If you initiated the divorce based on infidelity or some other scandalous misdeed by your ex, they might gather enough evidence to make people think you brought false allegations, even if they’re true. If you think your spouse has this motivation, inform your divorce attorney and ask what you can do to protect yourself and ensure your ex doesn’t accomplish their goal.

Avoiding Change

Divorce is one of the biggest changes in your life, and even if both parties consider it a good change, you’ll both still have periods where you’re scared of what’s to come. Maybe your spouse loves the house you own together and doesn’t want to move out, or perhaps they’ve become accustomed to a life of financial security and fear adjusting to a tighter budget.

Thankfully, this is one area where you can potentially connect with your ex on an emotional level. Even if you’re not on good terms, try to take the high road and assure them you can resolve the divorce so that it benefits both of you. If you can start repairing any bridges you’ve burned, you might convince them to proceed with the divorce.


Some people are just bad at making decisions, which may be one reason you’re divorcing them in the first place. The divorce process requires hundreds, sometimes thousands, of major and minor decisions to come to an agreement. The process feels difficult enough when you can both agree on terms, but it becomes exceedingly difficult if one of you can’t decide what you want or need.

This is another area where you have the potential to handle the issue yourself without intervention from attorneys or the court system. Talk with your ex, try to help them make a decision, and if you can make a show of good faith or extend an olive branch, you have a good chance of convincing them to wrap up the divorce proceedings in a timely manner.

Complications From Delaying Divorce

What are the potential complications of intentionally delaying divorce? The fastest your divorce can proceed in Arizona is 60 days, and some people might feel that is too slow. If one spouse decides to delay the divorce, it can have serious consequences for both parties.

Mental Health Problems

You’re probably well aware of the mental health effects of divorce, and the longer the divorce drags on, the more likely you’ll experience acute or chronic mental health issues. If you’re going through a divorce, consider seeing a therapist.

Financial Hardship

Divorce is expensive, and the longer it lasts, the more you’ll pay. Your costs go beyond attorney fees and include filing fees, accountant payments, refinancing loans, relocation expenses, and more. Reminding your ex-partner that delaying the divorce hurts them, too, may convince them to stop.

Strained Relationships

The bigger risk is the toll it takes on your friends and family, as a decrease in your mental health can prevent you from fully cultivating important connections. Sometimes, couples might choose to postpone divorce to try and work through their issues, but this decision can also extend the emotional strain on everyone involved.

Delayed Closure

While waiting to finalize the divorce, you won’t receive closure or be able to move forward. For example, even if you’re dating, you can’t marry and might remain financially tied to your ex. Remind your spouse that they need closure and that neither of you can transition into your new life without finishing the divorce.

Alternatives to Divorce Proceedings

If your spouse is intentionally delaying divorce, you may have other options for resolving the issue without involving the courts or requiring extensive negotiations.


Collaboration forgoes lawyers and allows you and your spouse to establish terms yourself. It’s focused on non-combative resolution, and if you can get on good terms with your ex, it can allow you to complete your divorce more quickly. Sometimes, the presence of an attorney makes people defensive, but even if you go through the collaborative process, you can still consult your lawyer for advice.


Mediation is the midpoint between collaboration and court proceedings and involves a third-party mediator to help resolve issues. Many divorcing couples find this a good option if they’re not on good terms.


Arbitration is a type of private court case in which you and your spouse choose one or more arbitrators to act as judges. You’ll still present your case during a trial, but it won’t feel as formal or restrictive as traditional proceedings.

Additional Legal Actions for Continuing the Divorce

If you don’t want to approach your divorce through collaboration, mediation, or arbitration, you still have some legal tools to help bring your divorce proceedings to a close. If your spouse has repeatedly filed to cancel a deposition or requested extensions, you can have your attorney ask the judge for sanctions or penalties that will motivate your spouse to continue with the proceedings. For example, you may ask the judge to have your spouse repay some of your legal fees if you spent money on an appointment they never showed up for.

You can also ask the judge to set a date for your final trial. Your ex will be legally obligated to attend, and you’ll receive the final ruling from the judge.

Lincoln & Wenk Offers Consultations for Divorce Cases

When your spouse is intentionally delaying divorce proceedings, you need family law legal advocates who will work tirelessly to resolve the issues. Whether your spouse is dealing with not wanting a divorce or is trying to gain an advantage over you, the legal team at Lincoln & Wenk can help. To book a consultation, contact us today.

Call us at 623-294-2464 or contact us to schedule your consultation today.

1616 North Litchfield Road, Suite 140, Goodvear, AZ 85395
Goodyear Office Location
20830 N Tatum Blvd, Suite 210 Phoenix, AZ 85050
Phoenix Office Location
14050 N 83rd Avenue Suite 290, Peoria, AZ 85381
Peoria Office Location