Reconciliation prior to the finalization of a divorce is a dream come true for many couples. Calling off a divorce can save a lot of stress, money, and emotional hardship on the whole family. Perhaps you and your spouse want to opt out of divorce in lieu of a less permanent arrangement, such as legal separation. No matter the case, there are steps you must take if you already filed for divorce but suddenly changed your mind.
Dismiss the Petition for Divorce
California couples can request that the courts simply dismiss the divorce petition. This is the best option if you and your spouse have reconciled and want to remain together instead of breaking up and dissolving your marriage. Note that although dismissal will end court proceedings, you and your spouse will still have to pay all associated fees of the process up until this point. The court will not issue refunds. If you and your spouse later decide to re-file for divorce, you will have to once again pay the filing fees for the initial paperwork. Keep the costs in mind when changing your mind about divorce.
File for Legal Separation
If you and your spouse are on the fence about whether you can reconcile your differences in the future, consider converting your divorce petition into a legal separation instead. In a legal separation, you and your spouse will have much of the same rights as in a divorce – including child and spousal support court orders, as well as property division. Yet the options of future reconciliation or marriage termination will both be at your disposal. The courts will continue to keep up with you and your spouse during legal separation to help you move through the system. You can always change your minds and file for divorce later.
Suspend Divorce Proceedings
The California courts offer a solution to couples who cannot make up their minds about divorce. Divorce is a significant, life-changing decision. It’s understandable to need to take time to really explore the situation and choose the right path. If you and your spouse filed for divorce but now need extra time before making a final decision, make a motion to suspend the proceedings. Both parties will have to agree on the suspension of the divorce process. An attorney will prepare a stipulation to file with the courts and put the divorce case on hold. A case on hold does not require either party to fulfill previously existing deadlines or appear in court during the suspension.
Options After a Completed Divorce Decree
Options become more limited if you and your spouse change your minds at the end of the divorce process. If you and your spouse signed the paperwork, it is a legally binding document even if you two reconcile later. You will have to destroy the paperwork or sign another contract stating the divorce papers are void. If you already sent the documents to the judge, you will need to immediately file a motion asking the courts not to rule on the matter. This can halt the process in its tracks.
Once a judge approves a settlement and completes a divorce decree, the couple has 30 days to file a motion to reverse the judge’s decision, though even this will not work in every case. If it’s been longer than 30 days or if the judge refuses the reversal, the couple will officially be divorced and must remarry if they so choose. Talk to an Orange County divorce attorney about your specific options if you’re changing your mind about divorce after you’ve already filed the paperwork in California.