How to Withdraw a Divorce Complaint in New Jersey

By Beverly Bird

Not everyone is unequivocally sure they want to end their marriage. They may file a divorce complaint in the heat of anger, only to calm down a little later. They may have thought about divorce for some time, only to realize that it may be possible to reconcile. If this happens to you and you change your mind after filing for divorce, and if you happen to live in New Jersey, withdrawing your complaint is a relatively simple process.

If Your Spouse Has Not Been Served

Step 1

Call the county sheriff, if you’ve submitted your divorce complaint to the sheriff for service on your spouse. Sheriff's service is the usual method of service in New Jersey.

Step 2

Tell the Sheriff's Department that you’ve changed your mind and you don’t want your spouse served.

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Step 3

Pick up your paperwork so a deputy doesn’t deliver it by mistake should there be a breakdown of communication within the department.

Step 4

Wait approximately three months. If you don’t serve your spouse with your divorce complaint within this reasonable amount of time, New Jersey considers this a “failure to prosecute." Eventually, the court’s computer will trigger an alert that you filed a complaint, but then you did nothing further. In most counties, you’ll receive a letter from the court telling you a judge will dismiss your complaint as of a certain date if you don’t take action.

Step 5

Respond to the letter in writing, giving the court your consent to dismiss. Alternatively, you can do nothing. If the court doesn't hear from you, a judge will administratively dismiss your complaint as of the date of the letter.

If Your Spouse Has Been Served

Step 1

Prepare a stipulation of dismissal if you didn’t change your mind in time to prevent your spouse from being served with the divorce complaint. This document consists of one simple paragraph and is not state-specific.

Step 2

Copy the caption from your divorce complaint onto a separate sheet of paper. Where your complaint says “complaint for divorce,” write “stipulation of dismissal” instead. Below the caption, write a paragraph stating that you’re stipulating that your complaint is dismissed “without prejudice.” Without prejudice means that you’re free to file for divorce again, at a later date, if you change your mind again and want to move forward so it's important to include this language.

Step 3

Draw a signature line for yourself under the paragraph in which you stipulate your dismissal. If your spouse has filed answering pleadings to your complaint, he will have to sign the stipulation as well. This indicates that he’s in agreement with terminating your divorce litigation.

Step 4

File your stipulation in the same courthouse where you filed your complaint for divorce. The court will dismiss your complaint.

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Do You Have to Go to Court Before a Dissolution of Marriage Is Finalized?
 

References

Related articles

In Divorce, What Does It Mean to Have an Answer Filed?

You just received a complaint, or petition, for divorce from your spouse. Now you need to file an answer to the complaint within a certain amount of time, as dictated by your state's law. A failure to answer on time will be viewed as a default, which means any allegations posed against you may be deemed as evidence, and judgment could be entered against you.

Motion to Reinstate a Divorce Complaint

Deadlines and mandatory court filings can complicate the divorce process, especially when you’re representing yourself and you're unsure of the rules. It’s surprisingly easy to take a misstep that might result in the court throwing out your case by dismissing your complaint. Fortunately, you can usually remedy the situation very easily by correcting your error and filing a motion with the court to reinstate it.

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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