Couples who file for divorce and then decide that they would rather stay together do not need to continue with the process. New York laws include provisions for those who initiate a divorce action and then wish to withdraw their petitions. The process is actually less involved than many people think. If you and your spouse have chosen to remain together, here is what needs to be done.
Being on the Same Page
Before taking any steps to stop the proceedings, it’s a smart move to be sure both parties really do want to stay together. As many former couples can attest, there are periods in which many couples have second thoughts about ending their marriages. Those doubts may take place after spending time with the kids, meeting and deciding to have dinner for old time’s sake, or any situation that produces good feelings about one another. Keep in mind that what seemed like a good idea yesterday could seem less viable in the objective light of tomorrow.
For this reason, it pays to talk with a counselor before making any decision. If the couple still feels they want to give the marriage a second chance after talking through the idea with a professional, the time has come to take action.
Notify Your Respective Legal Counsels
When the original divorce petition was filed, one party served as the plaintiff and the other as the defendant. That meant each spouse retained an attorney for representation. This was necessary to protect the legal rights of each party.
Once the decision is made to call off the divorce, both parties should notify their respective attorneys of the decision. While some may state that notifying the attorney representing the plaintiff is enough, there will still be the need for the attorney representing the defendant to confirm that both parties are in agreement. Choosing to notify each attorney saves time and makes it possible to proceed with the notification to the court.
Withdraw the Divorce Petition
Once the attorneys are notified of your intent to remain married, the task of contacting the court and stopping the action will commence. This will typically begin with the withdrawal of the divorce petition. The attorney for the plaintiff can prepare the necessary request and ensure that it gets to the court in a timely manner.
If the attorney for the defendant has already responded to the original claim and petition, it’s helpful to notify the court that the client wishes to withdraw the response. This provides the court with the necessary documentation to indicate that the divorce should not proceed.
Filing for a Discontinuance
With the former documents now addressed, the next step is to file what is known as an Affidavit of Service and Stipulation of Discontinuance. This document essentially serves as the written confirmation that the plaintiff and the defendant have mutually agreed to withdraw from the divorce proceedings and are asking the court to dismiss the case completely. The provisions within the document also serve as confirmation that the parties understand are choosing to end the proceedings of their own free will, and that no coercion or force of any kind is being used to change the position of either party.
Timing Does Matter
It’s important to understand that if the divorce proceedings have gone past a certain point, there will be no way to stop the divorce. For example, if the judge has already reviewed the case, approved the divorce settlement, and issued the divorce decree, the marriage is legally ended.
The good news is that New York does not have a waiting period for divorced individuals to remarry after a decree is handed down by the judge. If the couple is determined to remain together in spite of waiting too late to stop the divorce, there is the option of remarrying immediately.
Remember that the courts in New York do provide opportunities throughout the process for bringing the divorce action to a halt. The key is to make sure both parties agree that staying together is what they want. Once that decision is made, help from the attorneys involved will ensure that all the requirements of the court are met and the legal status of the couple remains intact.