Divorcing couples sometimes attempt to save money on attorney fees by hiring a professional mediator to help them negotiate a divorce settlement. Mediation requires both marriage partners to communicate as they work to resolve issues such as property division and child custody. If the couple decides to reconcile in the course of mediation, they can “cancel” the pending divorce by asking the court to dismiss their divorce petition.
Dismissing a Divorce
During mediation, if you and your spouse decide to reconcile, you can call off the divorce by requesting that the court dismiss your divorce petition. Both parties must sign the request, and the motion must be filed at the same courthouse where the divorce petition was filed. Filing the dismissal request quickly is crucial if you decide that you want to stay married – once the judge signs the final divorce decree, your marriage is terminated.
Suspending a Divorce
If mediation leaves you thinking twice about the divorce but you are unsure of whether reconciliation is the right course of action, suspending your divorce is more appropriate than having it dismissed. When the court suspends your divorce, it puts your case on hold for a specified amount of time. If you ultimately decide during that time that you want to continue with the divorce, you simply wait until the suspension period expires and your divorce case will resume. On the other hand, if you decide to withdraw the divorce action, you can file a dismissal request at any time during the suspension period.
If you and your spouse were on the brink of divorce but you re-established an open channel of communication during the mediation process, it’s possible that marriage counseling could help you rebuild your relationship and avoid divorce in the future. The Dartmouth College Healthy Exchange newsletter observes that marriage counseling can help spouses learn to argue in a healthier manner, express and negotiate needs more effectively and resolve conflicts.
If you signed an agreement with your mediator or agreed to pay a set fee for her service, she can hold you to any prior arrangements, even if reconciliation makes divorce mediation unnecessary. For example, if you and your spouse agreed to attend a certain number of mediation sessions, your mediator may charge you for those sessions, even if you and your spouse don't attend.