Can a Spouse Drop Divorce Charges?

By Maggie Lourdes

Spouses frequently opt to reconcile after divorce proceedings commence. A dismissal must be entered by the court to terminate a pending divorce action. A copy of the dismissal is customarily provided to all affected parties and any government agencies involved in the case. The dismissal process and court paperwork a spouse must complete varies based on state law and the specific circumstances involved.

Voluntary Dismissal

Generally, courts allow a person to dismiss his own lawsuit before the opposing party answers his pleadings. A voluntary dismissal must be signed by the party dropping the divorce and submitted to the court clerk for filing. The specific rules for voluntary dismissals are governed by state law. A person should check local rules and obtain an approved dismissal form from the clerk of the court handling the matter.

Stipulation to Dismiss

A spouse who has received a formal response to divorce pleadings generally must enter a stipulated dismissal to terminate the case. Both spouses must sign a stipulated dismissal which states the parties agree to drop the divorce and addresses conditions of the dismissal such as costs and attorney's fees. A stipulated dismissal must be submitted to the court for approval and entry.

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Motion to Dismiss

If a response has been filed to divorce proceedings and the parties cannot agree to a dismissal, a motion must be brought. A motion is a request for a formal hearing before a judge so the parties can argue their positions. A judge may grant or deny a motion for dismissal. For example, if a spouse is arguing over a small matter like court costs, a judge can make a decision about the issue and then grant the dismissal. However, if an opposing spouse has filed a formal response and wishes to proceed with the divorce, the judge may deny a dismissal so the marriage can be ended.

Non-Progress Dismissal

A court case can be dismissed for non-progress when parties simply stop participating in court proceedings. This is not the best way to have a case dismissed. For example, if a spouse files for a divorce, but then makes no further contact with the court or takes any action, the clerk will generally dismiss the case because of non-progress. Judges dislike it when cases are abandoned because they clog the dockets and create extra work for court personnel.

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How Can a Petitioner Drop a Divorce?

References

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Waiting Period for a Divorce in Minnesota

State law governs divorce proceedings, including any waiting periods. Some states impose mandatory waiting periods related to residency requirements and petition filings. In Minnesota, while the law requires a residency period before filing, the state does not require a waiting period once the petitioner files. As a pure no-fault state, Minnesota does not require evidence of wrongdoing. A spouse must file on grounds the marriage is “irretrievably broken.”

Divorce Sequence of Events

Although the specific details of the divorce process vary among states, the basic framework is virtually identical. Not every divorce has to be complicated and a substantial number of couples navigate the divorce process with little conflict. Some divorce cases, however, can last for several years and be extremely complicated. If you suspect your divorce could become complicated, you may want to speak with an attorney before beginning the process.

What Is a Divorce With Prejudice?

A divorce with prejudice, in a marriage that has been dissolved and custody and financial issues decided, means both parties are barred from filing a future divorce action against the other. The term "prejudice" in this context refers only to whether or not a party may refile a divorce action. It does not refer to any unlawful prejudice by the judge based on gender, race, religion or age toward a party.

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