How to Stop a Divorce From Happening

By Beverly Bird

Stopping a divorce isn't so much a legal question as it is one of saving your marriage. Legally, if your spouse is intent on getting a divorce, there's usually nothing you can do to prevent it. The best you can do is buy yourself some time to try to change his mind.

Make Sure Time is On Your Side

In some states, uncontested divorces can be over relatively quickly. But an uncontested divorce requires that you and your spouse reach a marital settlement agreement, so if you don't negotiate one, this will eventually force a trial. Trials take much longer, and this may give you time to open a dialogue with your spouse about what you can do to avoid a divorce. The downside is that if your case does go to trial because you won't agree to a settlement, you risk losing things that your spouse might have agreed to give you.

Contest Your Spouse's Grounds

If your spouse files for divorce on fault grounds and you contest them, he must prove his grounds at trial. If he fails to do so, the court will typically dismiss his divorce action. This won't make him happy, however, and he can refile for divorce using no-fault grounds instead. In this case, he typically would not have to prove his grounds to the judge. At best, if you disagree that you and your spouse have irreconcilable differences, the judge might order you to attend counseling, but he can't order your spouse to stay married to you. Ultimately, he will still obtain the divorce.

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If You're Successful

If you can convince your spouse to try to mend your marriage, make sure he files a motion of dismissal with the court to terminate the divorce proceedings. In many states, such as Washington, this is the only way the divorce can be officially stopped after one party files. If he doesn't do this, he might decide to proceed with the divorce without your involvement. In this case, your spouse can request a divorce by default if you don't respond to the divorce petition -- and the court will likely award him everything he requested in his petition.

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What If Only One Person Wants a Divorce?


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Retracting a Divorce

Enough couples change their minds about going through with their divorces that most states have built-in legislation to deal with the issue. However, the ease with which you can call a halt to the proceedings depends on how far your divorce has progressed through the court system. No state will force you to go through with a divorce if neither spouse wants to end the marriage.

How Long Can a Divorce Be Postponed in Indiana?

For all practical purposes, Indiana is a no-fault state. Its statutes don't include the typical fault grounds of adultery, abandonment or cruelty. If you file for divorce in this state, your only options are to use the no-fault grounds and tell the court your marriage is irretrievably broken, or your spouse is impotent, insane or convicted of a felony. If you file on grounds of irretrievable breakdown, your spouse can't stop the divorce without your consent. Under some circumstances, however, you or your spouse may be able to postpone the proceedings for a little while.

How Do I File a Response to Divorce Papers?

The emotion of a divorce is often further complicated by the legal labyrinth you find yourself trying to navigate after you're served with papers. This is especially true if you decide to proceed on your own, without an attorney. Law is famous for its complicated terms, rules and requirements. When your spouse serves you with divorce papers, you usually have a minimum of three different options to respond, depending on the laws of your particular state.

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