The Retraction of a Divorce Filing

By Ciele Edwards

A divorce is not finalized until a judge signs off on the divorce decree and grants a final judgment in the case. Until that point, you and your spouse can opt to terminate the divorce and keep your marriage intact. The method you use to retract your divorce filing will vary depending on when and how you withdraw the petition. State laws differ with regard to the exact forms you must use and the requirements you must meet before you can retract a pending divorce.

Withdrawal

When you file your divorce petition, you must formally serve your spouse with a copy of the petition. Your spouse then has the option to file a response to the petition or a separate divorce complaint. If your spouse has yet to file a response with the court and a judge has not already signed off on a divorce decree, you can withdraw your divorce petition. You must file a separate petition with the court noting your intent to withdraw your request for divorce and formally serve your spouse with a copy of the withdrawal notice.

Dismissal

If your spouse has already responded to your divorce petition, you cannot have the divorce dismissed merely by filing a separate petition. If you and your spouse decide not to proceed with the divorce, the two of you together must file a motion with the court requesting that it dismiss the pending divorce. You can do this at any point in the divorce process, provided the judge has not already signed the divorce decree. If your spouse will not sign the necessary paperwork to ensure a quick dismissal, you may petition the court to dismiss your case, but it is at the judge's discretion whether or not to do so.

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Suspension

If you and your spouse are unsure about whether the two of wish to proceed with your divorce, you can petition the court to suspend your divorce case temporarily. If, during the suspension period, you and your spouse decide to stay married, you must then file paperwork with the court requesting that it dismiss the pending divorce. On the other hand, should you decide to move forward with the divorce, you do not need to file separate paperwork. The case will proceed automatically when the suspension period expires.

Warning

You and your spouse can retract your divorce proceeding at any point until the judge signs off on the divorce decree. Once the judge signs your divorce decree, the divorce is final. You cannot appeal to terminate the divorce and keep your marriage because the marriage no longer exists. You and your spouse then have the option to remarry, but you cannot retract the divorce.

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Can You Restart a Divorce Case?

Some states allow uncertain spouses to push the pause button in the middle of a divorce, effectively halting the action. If you decide to proceed with a paused case, you simply notify the court. Even if you terminate the case by filing a dismissal, you can still restart the divorce in some states by filing a petition to reinstate.

Does My Husband Need My Permission to Cancel the Divorce?

Both spouses do not have to consent to a divorce for the court to grant one. All states recognize no-fault divorce, which means that if one spouse wants to end the marriage, there is nothing the other spouse can do to prevent it from happening. If your husband changes his mind and wants to stop the divorce after he’s begun it, he does not need your consent. However, you can still divorce. Your options for proceeding with the divorce vary depending on the papers each of you filed.

Can Divorce Papers Be Rescinded Once Signed?

Your ability to rescind divorce papers after signing them depends a great deal on exactly what you signed and what you want to take back. If you signed a divorce complaint or petition and then decide to stop the divorce process, it’s usually not a complicated procedure. However, if you signed a marital settlement agreement ending your marriage, and if you no longer want to abide by the divorce terms to which you agreed, you should speak with an attorney. Rescinding a marital settlement agreement is much more difficult and you probably could not accomplish it without professional help.

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