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How to withdraw a divorce

Updated November 21, 2016

While many couples prefer to use an attorney who specialises in family law during divorce proceedings, others may feel they can handle the matter themselves (pro se) or decide to do so because they cannot afford an attorney. If you have legal representation and decide you no longer wish to get divorced, your lawyer can file a motion to cancel the original divorce petition for you. However, if you are handling the legalities on your own, the process is fairly easy -- as long as the proper requirements are met.

Notify your spouse that you plan to file a motion to withdraw the divorce. If you are the original petitioner for the divorce, this can be filed at any point during the proceedings before the judge grants the divorce. If no answer has been filed by your spouse, the request should be granted. However, if your spouse has filed an answer to the original petition for divorce, he or she will need to agree to the withdrawal. And if you are the petitioned party (the spouse who did not request the divorce), your motion will not be granted unless the party who initiated the divorce files the same motion for withdrawal.

Contact the clerk of courts for the court handling your case; explain that you need the proper form to file a motion to withdraw the divorce petition.

Obtain the forms -- which may be online -- and fill them out completely in triplicate, unless your state requires additional copies. File one copy directly with the court, either by mail or in person; there should be no additional fee to do so. The second copy will be sent certified to your spouse; and the third copy is to retain for your records.

Request verification that the other spouse has received a copy of the motion for withdrawal, and then wait the proper amount of time for him or her to file an answer to the petition. If no answer is provided during that time, the motion for withdrawal should be granted by the court. The other spouse also has the option of filing their own motion for withdrawal as an answer to your petition. The court would then grant the withdrawal.

Warning

Do not cancel divorce proceedings if you are unsure that is the right decision; instead, request a continuance during which you and your spouse can work toward a possible reconciliation with a counsellor.

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About the Author

Lori Lapierre holds a Bachelor of Arts and Science in public relations/communications. For 17 years, she worked for a Fortune 500 company before purchasing a business and starting a family. She is a regular freelancer for "Living Light News," an award-winning national publication. Her past writing experience includes school news reporting, church drama, in-house business articles and a self-published mystery, "Duty Free Murder."