Can You Stop a Divorce if You Have Already Filed?
by Unbundled Legal Help
The decision to divorce can be difficult. In some cases, one or both spouses will change their minds and decide to stop the proceedings before a final court ruling is made. If you are in this situation, it’s important to know if your divorce can be stopped after filing, and how you can do it. We can connect you today with a local divorce lawyer to understand how to proceed.
No matter which type of divorce you or your spouse has filed, you can stop the divorce process after it is filed. A family law court can approve a request to stop divorce proceedings as long as certain conditions are met. It is important to note that only the spouse who filed for divorce can later stop the process.
If you have already begun the divorce process and are having second thoughts, it can be helpful to consult with a proven divorce lawyer in your area before making a final decision. Learn more below about stopping divorce proceedings after filing.
Reasons to Stop Divorce Proceedings
Aside from financial benefits from stopping divorce proceedings, there are many other reasons to do so. In some cases, couples reconcile their differences on their own, and in other cases, they reconcile during their mediation sessions. You and your spouse may choose to stop divorce proceeding for many reasons such as:
- You and your spouse resolve the disputes that led to filing for divorce
- You decide to work on your marriage via counseling
- You and your spouse decide to stay together until your children reach a certain age
- Neither party can afford the financial risks that come with divorce
- One or both spouses request changes
Regardless of your reasons for stopping your divorce proceedings, it can be done. The sooner you begin the process, the easier it will be to stop it. It’s important to note that the procedure for stopping divorce varies from state to state. Check with your divorce lawyer or get in contact with the court clerk’s office to learn more.
Steps to Stop Divorce Proceedings
Before you can stop a divorce proceeding, you will need to know how to do it. While the steps in each state do have slight variations, the general process for stopping divorce includes:
- Find and complete the right forms
- File the forms
- Serve the paperwork to your spouse
- Attend a hearing (if necessary)
Learn more about each step below.
Find and Complete the Proper Forms
The first step to stop divorce proceedings is to visit your state’s website and/or contact the court clerk’s office to learn what forms you need and where to get them. If you have filed for divorce, but your partner has yet to respond, you may be allowed to file a “voluntary dismissal.”
If your spouse has filed their response, then your request will not be automatically granted. In many cases, you and your spouse will be required to sign a “stipulation of voluntary dismissal” to officially stop the process.
File the Form
File the correct forms with the clerk's office. Filing fees vary depending on the state where you live. It can be helpful to call the clerk’s office before going to court so you learn how much the filing fee is, what payment options they accept, and whether you can apply for fee waivers (if necessary).
Serve Your Spouse
If you are seeking to end the divorce proceedings, most states do require you to serve a copy of the request to your spouse after filing it with the clerk’s office. You may also be required to provide the court with a “proof of service.” Your spouse will have a specific amount of time to respond to the request.
If they do not respond or they dispute your request to terminate divorce proceedings, a judge may schedule a hearing before making a final decision.
During the hearing, a family court judge allows each party to argue their sides. In most cases, a judge will only accept a request to stop divorce proceedings under certain conditions such as:
- Both parties agree to the divorce
- One party is not coercing the other party to stop the proceedings
- Terminating the divorce process is fair and equitable for both spouses
If you change your mind after filing for divorce, but your spouse still wants to move forward, your case can still proceed. States are careful to ensure that they do not make someone stay in a marriage who does not want to be in one.
Can I Stop a Divorce if I Am the Spouse Being Served?
No, you cannot stop divorce proceedings alone if you are the spouse being served. However, you and your spouse can stop proceedings together. It can be beneficial to use mediation sessions to actively work on your disagreements and disputes to end your divorce proceedings.
If you wish to stop the process, but your spouse is not sure. It is recommended that you speak with them one-on-one and develop a plan of action together. It is important to remember that it only takes one person to proceed with a divorce, but it takes both to stop it.
Depending on how far into the divorce process you are and what paperwork you have already signed, it’s best to consult with a divorce lawyer in your area before proceeding further.
When is it Too Late to Stop a Divorce?
Technically, you and your spouse can agree to stop your divorce process at any time before a final ruling is made. You may still have to pay filing fees and other applicable court costs. The longer you wait to stop proceedings, the more complicated it can get. This can be especially true if you have children, have already begun separating assets/debts, and are selling properties, etc.
Discuss strategy with your family law lawyer as well as a financial planner. It is important to ensure that both parties have an equal stake in the benefits as well as drawbacks of stopping the process early. Otherwise, a judge may deny the request to stop the divorce.
Additionally, a family court judge may deny the request to stop the divorce if it is found that one party is coercing the other to terminate the process and/or there are instances of abuse or neglect.
How Long Does a Divorce Petition Stay Active?
In general, a divorce petition does not have an official expiration date. It can take anywhere from a few months to more than a year to finalize a divorce. If a judge notices that there has been little to no movement on the case, they may schedule a conference call with you, your spouse, and your attorneys to discuss the status of the case.
In many cases, if there has been no movement after a certain amount of time and neither party shows interest in moving forward, the case can be thrown out. Keep the court informed of your intentions and the status of your case if you wish to proceed with your divorce.
How Will I Know When My Divorce is Final?
The divorce process typically takes months to resolve. The more complicated the divorce, the longer it typically takes to resolve. Some states require couples to observe a legal separation of six months to a year before their divorce can be finalized. Check with your attorney to learn more about your state’s requirements.
Your divorce will be officially finalized when a family court judge signs the divorce decree. It will take a few days for the decree to be mailed, but it is finalized at the exact time it is signed. After your divorce is finalized, some states allow you to request a reversal of the judge’s decision, but it must be requested within 30 days of the final ruling.
Do I Need an Attorney to Help Stop My Divorce?
Since you are stopping your divorce, you no longer need an attorney, right? That’s not necessarily true. A divorce lawyer can be helpful in many ways such as:
- Explaining the options available to you for stopping the divorce
- Informing you of potential difficulties you can encounter
- Represent you at hearings
- Filing paperwork and motions
While most people can agree on the benefits of hiring an attorney, many are not always comfortable with the costs. Most divorce lawyers charge $3k - $5k upfront and an additional $300 - $500 on top of that. If you are not completely sure about finalizing your divorce, it can be devastating to pay such high upfront fees.
How Can Unbundled Legal Services Help Me Save Money?
With unbundled legal services, you can save thousands of dollars in upfront fees by taking care of a few things on your own and hiring an unbundled attorney to take care of the rest. Fees for unbundled legal services start as low as $500 - $1500.
If your case is a good fit to be unbundled, you will not have to worry about paying thousands in upfront fees. This can be especially beneficial if you are not 100% sure about moving forward with your divorce.
Connect with an Unbundled Lawyer today to find out if your complex divorce case qualifies for a legal stop today.