Early Termination Of Marital Status
You may feel that your divorce process is going on for far too long, in part because your spouse seems to refuse to accept the fact that you have a right to end the marriage. This is the simplest and least costly of the extraordinary problems to resolve: ending excessive delay in becoming an unmarried person. The solution is the early termination of your marriage: you can get divorced now and work out the rest later.
Separate the issue of your marital status from all other issues in your case by dividing your divorce action into two parts. Change your status from married to single immediately, reserving all the issues to be decided. If your spouse consents to your request in advance, you can be divorced without having to appear in court.
Why do this? You have a right to be divorced for no reason other than too much time has passed, and you will feel healthier if you are divorced. You also may choose to terminate the marital status early to remove an impediment holding the case up, as in the following examples.
Carol ended her marriage to Donald to finally put a stop to their love-hate relationship and help them get on with the rest of the divorce. They had separated and reconciled so many times that nine years had passed since their divorce was filed. The balance of the case was complete within a year after Carol was no longer married to Donald.
When Betty terminated her marriage to Eric, it seemed to take away much of the pleasure he got out of the conflict of the divorce. He only hassled her about things he really wanted after that.
Kurt still hoped that Rachel would return to him. When she terminated the marital status early, the case started moving, and settled shortly after that.
Fran showed Gabe that it really was over after more than thirty years. Suddenly, Gabe started responding to settlement proposals and even prepared one himself.
Why would you oppose this? There are several important reasons, different for each case. Insurance is always a concern. Medical coverage for a spouse as a dependent ceases upon divorce. [Often, it can be extended for a limited time; apply for it!] Taxes may increase, or more likely fall unevenly, when changing from joint to separate returns. If spousal support was paid without a court order, none of it will be deductible if you file separately. Pension plans are a major concern. Divorce, and you are no longer a spouse protected against your former spouse cutting you out of all benefits. Other problems may exist in your case; identify your concerns by reviewing the facts with your attorney.
One reason for opposing an early termination applies only rarely, but when it does, it is critical. Are you a moderate wage earner, married for a little less than ten years, who will need support? If you are, you shouldn’t merely resist early termination, you should delay the divorce. When you have been married for ten years you have a right to derivative Social Security benefits from your spouse’s account. These additional benefits may be a substantial supplement to your own benefits. Defer your divorce until a date after your tenth anniversary.
Generally, all concerns can be answered with a well-prepared court order. Terminate the marital status early if it makes sense for you. Anticipate the problems: offer protective orders if you are asking for early termination; demand them if you are responding. Because the exposure is significant, the orders need to be comprehensive.
The court order dividing the divorce into two parts and terminating the marital status, whether reached by agreement between the spouses or entered by the court after a hearing, should; (1) order the medical and other insurance maintained, or if it can’t be because there’s no longer a dependency relationship, order comparable insurance maintained; (2) prohibit the making of any change in pension plans and require the one seeking the early divorce to indemnify the other spouse from any loss of any pension or survivor’s benefit as a result of the early divorce; (3) indemnify the spouse not requesting the early divorce spouse from all taxes payable only by reason of the early divorce; and (4) reserve jurisdiction to adjust every item necessary to make things as they were without the early termination of the marital status.
You are entitled to your new status as an unmarried person without undue delay. How long is too long to wait? You probably shouldn’t consider it until a year has passed. In many states, you can’t terminate your marriage any sooner than six months after serving your spouse with the summons and complaint. If you have no reason to accelerate your divorce, save your money. If you wish to terminate your marital status early, first check to see how much longer it will be. Assume most divorces get to trial within six months to a year in your area, and that your case was filed nine months ago. Your divorce is probably two months away, and your trial notice due any day.