Unfortunately, there are times when you might decide to dissolve your marriage, and may even start the divorce process by filing paperwork with the court. However, once the divorce has been initiated, what happens if you have a change of heart?
Having a change of heart is not as uncommon as you may think. Many spouses who have contemplated divorce (whether they filed paperwork or not) found themselves saying, “I changed my mind. I no longer want a divorce.” If you started the divorce process by filing a Petition for Dissolution with the court, but later decide you no longer want a divorce, you have the option of requesting that the court dismiss your petition.
How to legally “change your mind”
When you file your petition and have your spouse served with the “Summons” and “Petition,” your spouse has 30-days from the time of service to file a response. If your spouse does not file a response, then you are able to get the case dismissed by filing a “Request for Dismissal” and “Notice of Entry of Dismissal” with the court. This would not require any action on your spouse’s part. If, however, your spouse filed a response to the petition but is agreeable to reconciling, then your spouse would be required to sign the Request for Dismissal. As long as there was no other activity in your case, the process to dismiss is pretty simple.
Dealing with the issues
Although you may have taken the steps to get your divorce case dismissed, those steps only address the requirements necessary to prevent legal termination of your marriage. What about the emotional work that needs to take place in order to truly “fix” your marriage? One place to begin may be marriage counseling. Since there were issues that prompted you to file for a divorce in the first place, those issues do not magically disappear just because you dismissed your case. Participating in marriage counseling can help you and your spouse address the problems within your relationship by creating a safe space for communication as you try to identify the source(s) of the marital breakdown.
In addition to marriage counseling, individual counseling should be considered. A spouse may need one-on-one guidance in order to achieve some form of personal healing and growth that can be the impetus for rebuilding the marriage. After all, anything that can make you a better person will make you a better partner. Making the choice to save your marriage is commendable! So do NOT ever feel pressure to go through with a divorce just because you filed paperwork with the court. Also, take the necessary steps to repair your marriage, and do NOT be ashamed to ask for help. Your marriage is worth the work!
Nicole Lewis practices all aspects of family law, and is known for being an honest and compassionate practitioner who understands that the divorce process is extremely difficult for individuals to navigate on their own.