Like marriage, divorce is a life-changing process. If you and your spouse have started the divorce process and want to reconcile, you should be aware that reconciliation is possible. In order to maintain social and family stability, the legislation encourages marriage and discourages divorce. Therefore, there are ways to stop the divorce process until before the judge signs the divorce decree.
Note: the information in this article may vary depending on the country where you live.
Method 1 of 2: Withdraw Divorce Papers Unilaterally
Step 1. Find out if an answer or counterclaim has been filed
The spouse who initiates the divorce process is called "plaintiff" and the other spouse is called "defendant or defendant." If you and your spouse reconcile before the defendant has filed documents in response to the divorce petition, then the plaintiff can stop the divorce process on his or her own. If you have used the services of an attorney to assist you in your divorce, you should simply contact them to find out if an answer or counterclaim has been filed. If you were the one who filed the papers, then you should receive the answer or counterclaim by mail.
Step 2. Identify the clerk of court responsible for processing your case
If no response or counterclaim has been filed, identify the clerk of court who is in charge of managing your case. The family court where you filed your divorce papers will initially assign a clerk to handle your case. If you used a lawyer to file the papers, then it is he or she who should know this information. Contact the clerk of court to complete the necessary paperwork to remove your divorce papers.
Step 3. Fill out the relevant forms
If the court clerk provides you with a form, fill it out or have your attorney fill it out. These types of forms are typically only one or two pages long and are very simple to complete. To see an example, visit the following link:
- Follow all instructions and be sure to complete it and, if necessary, notarize it. Many of the legal document delivery processes are delayed due to the lack of a signature or date in the correct place. Save time and money and review the form well to make sure you have completed it correctly and in its entirety.
- Don't be intimidated. There are generally no fees associated with withdrawing a case at an early stage, although you will likely lose the money you paid when starting the divorce process. Also, remember that you do not owe any explanation to the court about why you have decided to withdraw your case.
Step 4. Notify your spouse
Once the petition to withdraw the case is completed, in most jurisdictions, you will need to notify your spouse with a copy of the petition for withdrawal. The clerk of court will tell you if this is necessary, as well as what type of service is acceptable in your jurisdiction. Even if it is not always required to show evidence that your spouse received a notification, it is always a good idea to keep a copy of the documents that verify that you did. That way, if the court loses any of your documents, you will have evidence that you submitted your withdrawal request.
Method 2 of 2: Stop the Divorce Process Bilaterally
Step 1. Make sure that both you and your spouse want to withdraw the divorce petition
The first and most important thing to do is make sure that reconciliation is the best option for you, your spouse, and your family. Just as there are costs associated with initiating a divorce, there are also those (such as legal costs and attorney's fees) associated with the withdrawal process, particularly if your spouse has already filed an answer or counterclaim. Don't waste your time and money, or your spouse's. Talk to him or her honestly and openly and make sure the two of you are committed to keeping your marriage intact.
Step 2. File an application to dismiss the lawsuit
Since both spouses have already expressed their desire to divorce, the court must verify that both want to reconcile. Therefore, when the application process is complete, both the plaintiff and the defendant must sign it. In most jurisdictions, this application is filed with the clerk of court, after which the judge will either accept it (if both parties have signed it) or schedule a hearing to assess its merits (if only the plaintiff has signed it).
- File an order to dismiss the lawsuit. In other jurisdictions, you will need to file both an order and a request to dismiss the lawsuit. The process for submitting the order and its contents are substantially the same as for submitting an application. The order simply indicates that the application has been admitted or that a hearing date has been set.
- If a hearing is scheduled, the plaintiff is generally required to attend it. If the defendant is present, but has no objection to the dismissal or if he or she does not attend the hearing, then the judge will most likely admit the request. The court will then send your spouse a notice informing them that the divorce papers have been withdrawn or provide you with a copy of the withdrawal notice for you to do so.
Step 3. Dismiss the counterclaim
If the defendant has filed a counterclaim, this constitutes a separate petition for divorce. A counterclaim would be the most common if the divorce process was started for some reason, such as adultery or abandonment, in contrast to a divorce started without regard to fault (such as irreconcilable differences or incompatibility). If there is a counterclaim, then it will continue to be "active," even if the plaintiff withdraws or dismisses the original petition. In order to stop the divorce process, the counterclaim must also be dismissed. The process for dismissing a counterclaim is exactly the same as the process for dismissing the plaintiff's original claim.
Step 4. Close the case
If you and your spouse have stopped the divorce process on your own, but hired attorneys to handle it, make sure you both contact your respective attorneys to close the case. This will save you from wasting additional time on your case and excessive charges for legal services.
- Consider attending couples therapy. When you and your spouse decide to stop the divorce process and stay married, you are probably looking for a new beginning. Consider using available resources, such as couples counseling, to strengthen your marriage.
- Consider consulting an attorney, even if you did not use one when filing your initial divorce papers. Family court laws and regulations vary from state to state. Therefore, it is a good idea to speak with a divorce and family law attorney if the divorce process is ongoing and you would like to stop it.