When can a Divorce be Withdrawn or Discontinued in New York?
Divorce is a complicated matter, and it’s made more complicated when both parties decide they want to discontinue or withdraw the divorce petition in New York. New York law allows a couple to discontinue a divorce petition, but there are several factors, laws, and stipulations involved in making this happen. It’s not as simple as making a quick phone call to the Clerk of Court to say you’d like to cancel your subscription to the divorce you wanted. It’s more complex, it requires a specific process, and it’s not something any court takes lightly.
While most New York courts prefer to see couples work through their issues rather than end their marriage, there are some situations in which the court is less likely to allow this to happen without a fight. When one party alleges abuse, when one party is harming the other, or when the dismissal of a divorce proceeding is thought to be the result of coercion, it’s more difficult to withdraw or discontinue a divorce. If you truly believe you can and want to make your marriage work, it’s possible to put an end to the divorce process so long as there are no signatures on the judgment.
Can I cancel my divorce in New York before my spouse is served?
The short answer is yes, you can cancel your divorce. If you file a Notice of Summons with your local Clerk of Court, you file a paper that dictates you want a divorce. This paperwork has your name and personal information, and it has the name and personal information of your spouse. It states the reason you’d like to end your marriage, and it states the specifics you are asking for when your divorce continues.
Once this paperwork is filed, the court makes it official and sends a process server to your spouse’s home or work to serve them the divorce papers. The papers are not considered official until they’ve been served and accepted by the person named in the divorce. If you file for divorce and change your mind prior to the Notice of Summons being served to your spouse, you might be able to petition the court to cancel or discontinue the summons without serving it. Your spouse will never know you filed for divorce.
What happens if my spouse is served and I change my mind after?
If your spouse is served a Notice of Summons by the court, you cannot withdraw your decision to file for divorce of your own accord. According to New York Civil Practice Law and Rules 3217, you may file for a petition to withdraw or discontinue the process of a divorce, but only if you have the signature of your spouse in the right frame of mind.
Once the paperwork has been served, you waive your right to cancel the process on your own. If you’d like to work on your marriage, you must speak to your spouse, come to an agreement, and you must both approach the court to withdraw the documentation to stop the divorce. You must both be in the right frame of mind, you must not coerce your spouse into doing this, and you must both agree with full knowledge of what is happening. Signatures and a witness are required.
Discontinuing Your Divorce
The law is complex in New York, and that means there might not be a real answer to any question until it’s been asked. If you want to get a divorce and you go through the entire process only to change your mind a day before your divorce is finalized, speak to your attorney. No divorce is finalized in New York until the divorce petition is signed, sealed, stamped, and approved by a judge in a court of law. If this has yet to happen, there is still a chance you can have your divorce petition withdrawn.
You won’t know unless you ask. It is important to note using an attorney to help you through this process is the best situation. Most divorces are a little more complex, and they require knowledge and legal expertise. Not everyone can go through an uncontested, simple divorce in which they handle their issues fairly and on their own. This means an attorney can help. An attorney can also help with the discontinuance of a divorce, too.
If you’re in the market for a divorce, be sure it’s what you want. Ask yourself if you can still see your future with your spouse, if you really want to end your marriage, and if there is any possibility you can work things out. If you cannot see yourself working things out, move forward. Sometimes you’re right in wanting to end things, and sometimes you need the clarity filing for and going through this process requires. It’s not always easy, but an attorney can help you answer your questions.