No response on separation agreement


#1

We have been separated for well over a year. With the assistance available in the online divorce coach area I created a separation agreement that (I feel) covers everything fairly for each of us and asked for spouse’s feedback (or signature with notary if it’s agreeable). It has been several months and no response other than “I’ll look it over”.

I assume the only option now is to file for equitable distribution, but I don’t understand exactly how that works for a do-it-yourselfer. All of our bank accounts and credit cards have already been settled and closed. We have joint title and mortgage in a home where spouse resides and evidently wants to keep. We have a pension which would require a qdro, I have all the plan information and a model from the pension company. Some vehicles that I do not have a problem signing away, plus there is nothing in the house that I would like to keep. No children under 18.

What are the steps for filing for equitable distribution? I have all the forms that were available in the online area, but am not sure in what order things should proceed.

Thank you for your time, the forum is a valuable source of information.


#2

First of all, you will need to be particularly careful with your QDRO. These can be tricky to draft, and as such we often advise that an attorney be used to draft them. However, if you do decide to go it alone, you should request a sample QDRO from the retirement plan itself before moving forward, which you have already done it seems, and do the best you can to draft it on your own. When you eventually file your divorce complaint, you will need to include a claim for Equitable Distribution of retirement benefits, then submit the QDRO for the judges signature on your actual court date. So, it will be fine for you to enter a summary judgment for divorce and include a claim for ED in the complaint itself.

Filing a claim for equitable distribution ensures the process will move forward. If she is constantly stalling you and refusing to resolve this matter in settlement, then litigation may be your only recourse. The court imposes deadlines for document exchange, mediations, and other steps in the process, and eventually will set a trial date in which the judge will decide the property and support issues.

By statute, a scheduling and discovery conference is supposed to happen within 90 days of filing the initial action. Also, the local rules in the county where you live dictate how long each party has to perform certain necessary tasks in the equitable distribution claim. Even though this exists, most attorneys take their time and deal only with one issue at a time and not all of them. For instance, child custody may be the only issue one side wants to handle at any one moment in time, so they let the other issue linger or wait.

The main thing it sounds like you will need to do is ensure that the home equity or debt (if the home has no equity) is equitably divided, and that once this is done, the spouse who is no longer living at the residence will be paid off via a re-finance by your spouse, who is remaining. If she cannot re-finance, then the house will need to be sold so that you can come off of that mortgage. At that point, once you are removed from the mortgage, you will execute a Quit Claim deed which will remove yourself from the deed.

If you cannot come to an agreement on equitable distribution, it can take from six months on to get to a final trial, although there are many other steps along the way. Best of luck.