How to Stop a Divorce After the Papers Have Been Filed

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

How to Stop a Divorce After the Papers Have Been Filed

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

If you are not the spouse who filed for divorce, you generally cannot stop the process after the papers have been filed. You can contest the grounds upon which your spouse cites in the divorce petition, and you can argue custody and property distribution, but no state will force a person to remain married just because the other partner does not want to break up. However, if you are the one who initiated the proceedings, you can usually stop the process depending on how far along it is.

Man and woman sitting together on a couch looking at paperwork

How to Stop a Divorce in its Early Stages

Especially in the early stages of the divorce process—such as after the petition has been filed but before it is served on your spouse, or even after it has been served—you can simply decide to do nothing more, which will stop the case from proceeding any further than it has.

State law likely requires that, upon filing your petition, it be served to your husband or wife. This is known as due process. If you want to stop your proceedings, you do not have to follow through with due process and the court will eventually dismiss your case.

If your husband or wife has already been served, you can still stop the case from proceeding as long as they do not want the divorce either. If neither you nor your spouse do anything to move it forward, the court will dismiss your case just as it would if you failed to serve them. However, because your husband or wife is now an active participant in the proceedings, they can decide to proceed with it even if you no longer want to.

How to Stop a Divorce in the Later Stages

The best way to stop a divorce after the papers have been filed is to tell the court you are voluntarily withdrawing the case and do not wish to proceed any further.

1. Obtain the Proper Form

Obtain the proper form from the courthouse where you originally filed your petition. The court clerk can give you the right forms to fill out.

2. Complete the Document

Complete the required form. In most states, this is a simple one-page document that states you are voluntarily dismissing or withdrawing your own case. You do not need to provide an explanation to the court for why you are doing so.

3. File the Form with the Court

Upon completing the form, you must file it with the court. The clerk will return a copy for your records as well as one to serve on your husband or wife.

4. Serve your Spouse

If your state requires your husband or wife to be served, you must serve them with a copy of your dismissal. Some courts will mail it for you, but others may require you to either give it to them yourself or mail a copy by certified mail.

If you initiated divorce proceedings but are now having second thoughts, you can likely still stop the process depending on how far it has gone. You might also choose to speak with your spouse regarding how you can both come to an agreement to reverse the process, and continue the marriage.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.

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