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What if I want to stop the divorce after I already filed the papers?

By Spodek Law Group | July 27, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 14, 2023)

Last Updated on: 14th October 2023, 09:23 am

I Changed My Mind! How To Stop My Divorce After Filing

Divorce is a huge decision that affects your entire life. It’s normal to have some doubts and second thoughts, even after you’ve started the process by filing for divorce. If you’ve realized you made a mistake and want to stop the divorce, don’t panic! In many cases, it is possible to halt the divorce proceedings if both spouses agree. Here’s what you need to know about stopping a divorce after filing.

When Can You Stop a Divorce After Filing?

The good news is, you can stop a divorce at any point before the judge officially signs the final divorce decree. Up until the divorce is finalized, you have options for putting the brakes on your case. However, once the judge signs off on the final decree, the divorce is considered complete and you can’t reverse it.

If you’ve already filed for divorce but now want to stop it, the timing matters. Here are the main scenarios:

  • Before your spouse is served – If you filed the initial divorce petition but your spouse hasn’t been served the papers yet, you can withdraw the petition yourself without your spouse’s consent. Just head to the courthouse and submit a request to dismiss the case.
  • After your spouse is served but hasn’t responded – If your spouse received the divorce papers but hasn’t submitted a response or counter-petition, you can still withdraw the original petition on your own without permission.
  • After your spouse responds – Once your spouse formally responds to the divorce petition, you’ll both need to agree to stop the proceedings. You’ll have to file a joint request for dismissal.
  • Late in the process – Even if you’re close to finalizing the divorce, as long as the judge hasn’t signed the final decree, you can file a motion to halt the proceedings as long as you both consent.

The sooner you act to stop the divorce after filing, the smoother the process will be. Don’t delay if you’re having second thoughts!

How Do You Stop a Divorce After Filing the Paperwork?

If you and your spouse are on the same page about stopping the divorce, here are the steps to take:

1. Talk to your spouse

Have an open and honest discussion about why you originally filed for divorce, why you want to stop the proceedings now, and how you’ll address any ongoing issues in the marriage. Make sure you’re both committed to reconciliation before taking legal action.

2. Contact your divorce lawyer

Let your attorney know you’ve changed your mind and want to stop the divorce. They’ll advise you on the laws and procedures in your state for dismissing a divorce case.

3. File the forms

You’ll need to complete certain forms to request dismissal of the divorce. Your lawyer can help prepare the appropriate documents. Expect to pay a filing fee when submitting the forms.

4. Serve your spouse

In most states, you’ll need to formally serve your spouse with a copy of the dismissal request after filing it with the court.

5. Attend any court hearings

If required, be prepared to attend court hearings on the request to stop the divorce. The judge will make the final call.

What If Only One Spouse Wants to Stop the Divorce?

If you’ve been served divorce papers but your spouse still wants a divorce, the process can still move forward even if you don’t consent. You can’t unilaterally stop a divorce once your partner responds to the petition.

In this case, your best move is to hire a skilled divorce lawyer right away. An attorney can help you negotiate for favorable divorce terms, like custody arrangements, property division, and spousal/child support. They may also be able to buy you some time by filing motions to delay court proceedings.

Alternatives to Stopping Divorce Entirely

If you can’t agree to halt the divorce completely, consider these alternatives that essentially press “pause” on the proceedings:

  • Request a continuance – Ask the court for more time before the next hearing or deadline. This delays the case without dismissing it.
  • File for temporary separation – In some states, you can legally separate first while you work on the marriage. This puts the divorce on hold.
  • Place the case on inactive status – The court can order the divorce case inactive for a set time period, say 6-12 months. After that, the case is dismissed if you don’t move forward.
  • Withdraw financial petitions – If you’ve filed requests for spousal/child support or property division, you can withdraw these while leaving the overall divorce case open.

Talk to your divorce attorney to explore options that give you more breathing room.

5 Key Tips for Stopping Your Divorce

If you want to stop your divorce in its tracks after filing, keep these tips in mind:

1. Act quickly – To increase your chances of successfully dismissing the case, move to stop the divorce as soon as possible after having doubts.

2. Get legal advice – Consult a local divorce attorney to understand the laws and procedures for your state. Don’t try to stop it alone.

3. Both spouses must consent – Except in limited scenarios, you’ll both need to agree upfront to halt the divorce at this stage.

4. Be prepared to start over – If you stop the divorce but later file again, you’ll have to redo all the paperwork and pay fees again.

5. Seek marriage counseling – If reconciling, get professional help to address any ongoing marital problems or resentments.

The Emotional Side of Ending a Divorce

Even if you successfully stop the legal proceedings, reversing your decision to divorce is emotionally complex. Here are some tips for coping:

  • Get therapy – Seek individual counseling or couples therapy to work through issues that led to divorce talks.
  • Allow time to rebuild trust – Don’t expect to immediately restore intimacy and affection overnight. Let trust slowly rebuild.
  • Discuss expectations – Have open conversations about what you both want moving forward and how to strengthen the relationship.
  • Let go of anger – To move forward, both spouses need to forgive each other for hurtful actions during the divorce process.
  • Celebrate the decision – Do something special together to mark the choice to give your marriage another chance.

Questions to Ask Before Stopping a Divorce

  • Why did we separate in the first place? Have those reasons changed?
  • What’s different this time around? How will we avoid past mistakes?
  • Are we both fully committed to reconciliation, or is one spouse unsure?
  • Have we addressed the underlying problems that led to divorce talks?
  • Are we willing to seek professional help (counseling, therapy, etc) to work on the relationship?
  • Do we need a postnuptial agreement to feel secure before reconciling?
  • How will we tell our families, friends, and kids that we’ve reconciled?
  • What will we do if our reconciliation efforts fail down the road?

If you can’t answer these questions clearly, seriously think through whether stopping the divorce is the right move. Don’t sweep past problems under the rug – be proactive in addressing issues head on this time around.

The Bottom Line

Ending a divorce is possible in many circumstances if both spouses are on board. But remember – you need to act quickly and definitively once you start having doubts. Speak to a knowledgeable divorce attorney right away to understand your options. Stopping a divorce after filing paperwork can be complicated, but with legal help, you can successfully dismiss your case as long as the judge hasn’t finalized the divorce.

While reversing your decision is a big step, keep in mind your reconciliation is just beginning. With patience and ongoing effort, you can rebuild your marriage even after taking steps to end it. Don’t be afraid to seek counseling to get your relationship back on track. Although stopping a divorce is daunting, many couples go on to have happy marriages after nearly ending them. With commitment and forgiveness, you too can go the distance together.

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