What Happens to the Case When a Divorcing Couple Reconciles

It doesn’t happen that often but occasionally in my practice a divorcing couple will decide that they want to work on the marriage and not go through with the divorce.

Most of the time this happens very early in a case, although I have occasionally seen it even after we have reached a settlement. I suppose it can be a real wake up call to someone when their spouse files for divorce. They might realize that the situation is a lot more serious than they previously thought and they decide to really put their best foot forward to try to save the marriage before it is too late. Sometimes this works, sometimes it does not.

You Are the Only One Qualified to Decide If You Need a Divorce

As I tell clients, while I am an expert in family law I do not consider myself an expert as to whether they should get a divorce. That one of the most personal of decisions that you can make and while you may have lots of input from third parties (friends, family, etc.) that have very strong opinions, ultimately the only one qualified to make that decision is them.

That I also tell clients is that they should proceed with the divorce only if they are 100% satisfied that they have done their best to fix the problems in their marriage. Again, the extent to which a person needs to work on the marriage before they feel like they are 100% satisfied with their efforts is personal. Some people will feel like that requires months or even years of marriage counseling, marriage retreats, books and various other efforts before they are comfortable throwing in the towel. Others feel like the marriage should either work on its own. If it is not then they believe that counseling would be like putting a band-aid on a fatal wound. Again the only personal qualified to make that decision is the person involved.

Options if Working on Reconciliation During Divorce Case

So even after all this analysis and reaching a final decision to file for divorce, sometimes people get in the middle of a divorce case and then begin to have second thoughts for any number of reasons. When both sides feel this way there are normally a couple of ways to proceed.

First, they could decide to dismiss the divorce case immediately and work on the marriage. This involves filing a Motion for Nonsuit and getting the judge to sign a Nonsuit Order which effectively ends the case. Either side could always refile the divorce case and start the process over again if they changed their mind.

The second option is to leave the case pending for a short while, effectively taking a timeout in the case, and work on the marriage while the case is on hold. Then, assuming the reconciliation efforts are helping, the parties can then file the Motion for Nonsuit to have the case dismissed. The amount of time the case can be on hold is usually somewhat limited based on the county and specific court that the case is pending in. Many counties and courts have specific case timelines and the case will be set for trial. Sometimes that trial date can be postponed while the parties work on their marriage, but at some point the parties will need to decide if they are satisfied with their progress and whether the case will be dismissed or the divorce will move forward.

Lesson:  Exhaust Your Efforts to Fix Your Marriage Before Filing for Divorce

While in-case reconciliations are not a particularly frequent occurrence, it is always a pleasant surprise when it happens. For most people this should be a reminder to really give serious consideration to the long term, life-changing consequences of a divorce before they make a final decision to file. You can always file for divorce next week, next month, or next year.

Do you have any questions or thoughts on reconciliation and when a person should go forward with a divorce? If so, please give me your comments or questions below.

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Scott Morgan is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He has practiced family law since 1994 and is the founder of the Morgan Law Firm which is dedicated exclusively to representing divorce and family law clients in the Houston and Austin areas.

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