Can You Stop a Divorce You Don't Want?
Posted: March 13, 2023
In many cases, when a couple divorces, the decision is mutual. Other times, however, one partner may decide to call it quits while the other is not ready to give up. Before you jump into the proceedings, it’s important to know if you or your partner can legally stop a divorce once you’ve started the process.
Responding to Divorce Papers
In most cases, divorce proceedings begin when one partner “serves” the other with divorce papers. If you have been served with divorce papers, it is then your responsibility to file an answer on or before the deadline for responding to the lawsuit — typically within 20 to 30 days from the day you were served, depending on your state’s laws.
While the ball is in your court once you receive the initial papers, refusing to respond does not mean the judge will stop the divorce. On the contrary, if you fail to file an answer to divorce papers within the allotted time, the court will usually assume that you agree with everything stated, claimed, and requested in your partner’s filing and proceed with that understanding.
How Do You Stop a Divorce You Don’t Want?
If you want to legally stop a divorce from happening, your best strategy is to get in touch with a lawyer and reply promptly in writing. This may not guarantee that you can stop the divorce from going through, but it does at least give you a voice in the proceedings.
Whether or not you actually have the power to stop a divorce depends on who started the proceedings, as well as the laws in your state. If you were the one to file the original divorce papers but then change your mind, in most cases, you can then file for a ‘voluntary dismissal.’ If granted, the court will then cancel the entire process. If, however, you have been served by your partner, who is intent on ending the marriage, things can be more challenging.
At-Fault vs. No-Fault Divorce
In most contentious divorce cases, the partner initiating the process will opt for an at-fault divorce. These divorces have the potential to land the person filing a greater payout in alimony and other expenses—but they will have to prove their case in order to be granted the final divorce. Because of this, if you can successfully refute any claims filed against you, you can stop the divorce.
If, on the other hand, your state allows for no-fault divorce filings, you may not be able to legally prevent the divorce from going through. While no-fault divorces are generally intended to be more mutual and amicable, because there are no claims being filed against you to refute, you do not have the option of blocking the court from granting the divorce. You may want to try appealing to your partner to reconcile, but legally, you won’t be able to stop a divorce from going through.
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