Can We Stop Our Divorce If We’ve Changed Our Minds?
Divorce can be an emotional rollercoaster. Many couples start the process believing divorce is the right decision, only to later have second thoughts and realize they want to try to save their marriage. If you and your spouse have begun divorce proceedings but now want to halt the process, there are steps you can take depending on how far along you are.
Dismissing the Divorce Petition
If divorce paperwork has been filed with the court but your spouse has not yet submitted a response, it may be possible for the petitioner (person who filed for divorce) to unilaterally withdraw the petition. This stops the divorce and requires no additional consent. However, if your spouse has formally responded to the petition, both parties must agree to dismiss the case.
To dismiss a divorce petition, you’ll need to file a Request for Dismissal form with the court clerk. Be sure to select “without prejudice,” meaning you can re-file later if needed. You’ll also need your spouse’s signature agreeing to the dismissal if they’ve already responded.
Once submitted, the court will remove the case from its docket and you’ll no longer have to worry about responding to filings or appearing at hearings. However, if you change your mind again down the road, you’ll have to restart the divorce process and repay filing fees.
Converting to a Legal Separation
If you’re unsure about reconciling long-term, consider asking the court to convert your divorce petition into a petition for legal separation instead. This puts your marriage in limbo – you remain legally married but live separately while working out issues like child custody, spousal support, and property division.
The major advantage of legal separation over divorce is that it’s easier to reconcile later. If you do repair your relationship, you simply file to dismiss the separation. But if it doesn’t work out, you can then move forward with finalizing the divorce.
Suspending Divorce Proceedings
Another option is to file a motion asking the court to suspend your divorce case for a set period of time, such as 6 months. This presses pause on the proceedings so you can focus on reconciliation without stressing over deadlines and court dates.
To suspend a divorce case, you and your spouse must sign a stipulation presented to the court by your attorneys. If you reconcile, you can then dismiss the case entirely. If not, the case will resume once the suspension period ends.
Reversing a Divorce After the Decree
Once a judge signs your divorce decree, legally dissolving your marriage, it becomes very difficult to undo. If it’s been less than 30 days since the decree, you may be able to file an emergency motion asking the judge to rescind it. But this isn’t guaranteed to work.
If it’s been over 30 days or the judge won’t reverse the decree, you and your spouse are officially divorced in the eyes of the law. At this point, the only way to become married again is to have another wedding and get a new marriage license.
Tips for Reconciling After Filing for Divorce
- Seek counseling. Addressing underlying problems that led to divorce in the first place is crucial for reconciliation. Marriage counseling or couples therapy can facilitate this.
- Communicate openly. Discuss what went wrong and how to rebuild trust. Set expectations for how you’ll interact moving forward.
- Take it slowly. Don’t immediately resume all aspects of your relationship. Date your spouse again and gradually work up to more commitment.
- Involve attorneys. Keep lawyers updated on your plans to halt divorce proceedings. They can advise you legally.
- Consider trial separation. Living apart briefly may help you gain perspective on the relationship and if you both want to save it.
- Don’t ignore problems. Sweeping issues under the rug won’t make them go away. Doing the work is the only path to true reconciliation.
When Is It Too Late to Stop a Divorce?
Generally, once a divorce decree has been issued by a judge, reversing course becomes extremely difficult if not impossible. The decree formally dissolves the bonds of matrimony under the law.
That said, as long as you halt the divorce prior to the decree being finalized, you and your spouse maintain the option to reconcile. Dismissing the petition, seeking legal separation, or suspending the case are all viable options during this window.
The key is acting quickly as soon as you start having doubts and communicating with your spouse openly. With proper legal guidance and a true commitment from both people to repair the relationship, it may be possible to call off a divorce in progress.
Consulting a Divorce Attorney
If you and your partner are having second thoughts about ending your marriage, it’s important to discuss your case with a knowledgeable divorce attorney right away. An attorney can review your options and help you take appropriate legal steps to stop the proceedings.
Every situation is unique. An attorney can analyze the specifics and advise you on dismissal protocols, converting to separation, suspensions, and more. They can also help craft a reconciliation plan that sets you and your spouse up for success.
Don’t assume you’re out of options if you’ve started divorce but now want to make amends. Schedule a consultation with an attorney as soon as possible to save your marriage. With the right legal assistance, calling off a divorce mid-process may be possible.