Written by Avvo Staff

How to stop a divorce

If you want to stop your divorce from proceeding, you can file a motion to dismiss.

Divorce proceedings formally begin with the filing of a petition for divorce, and most divorces end with the finalization of the divorce and the end of the marriage. However, not all divorces reach this final stage, and some are stopped before the divorce is finalized. This happens when a motion to dismiss without prejudice is filed.

In most cases, an individual filing for a motion to dismiss has decided to work out the marriage. Regardless of your reasons, the motion to dismiss will effectively stop a divorce.

Typically, the process is quick and relatively simple, as long as you correctly file the paperwork.

When you can stop a divorce

After the divorce paperwork is filled out (and the papers have been served to the respondent), some states have a mandatory waiting period before you can continue with the divorce process. This waiting period not only has to do with the legal process of paperwork moving through the system, but it also allows time for the couple to reconsider the divorce.

If they change their minds, the spouses can decide to stop the divorce. This decision may come at any time during the divorce process, from shortly after the initial divorce petition is submitted to a few days before the divorce decree is finalized. If you decide to remain married, it is important to file the motion as soon as you've decided against continuing the divorce process.

How to file a motion to dismiss a divorce

If you decide you want stop the divorce, you will either need to complete a form, or write a letter. The local court clerk or your attorney can let you know what's standard in your jurisdiction. In most cases, it’s a form similar to the petition for divorce.

Keep in mind that the spouse who originally filed the petition is required to file the motion to dismiss. But, both you and your spouse will need to sign the form. Once the judge receives the paperwork, the divorce is usually dismissed, usually without a court hearing.

In addition to the time it takes to process the legal paperwork, the speediness of a dismissal will depend on your spouse’s response.

Stopping a divorce by other means

Remember that if one spouse wants to proceed with the divorce, there is no way to stop it from happening. Refusing to sign the papers won't prevent the divorce from happening, but it will make the process longer and more stressful. When you can't find common ground, the divorce becomes more costly and ends up in court.

If you're facing divorce, the best approach is to talk to your partner. Consider marriage counseling or mediation if you can't seem to resolve these issues on your own.

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