Can a Divorce be Stopped? Tips to Stop Divorce 

When people search for tips to stop divorce, they generally have been blind-sided with divorce papers or have a spouse who has already given up on the marriage. 

By WomansDivorce | Answers by Brette Sember, J.D. 

It’s devastating to face the possibility of divorce when you thought your marriage was forever. And you may be looking for any way to keep the divorce from happening. Marriage counseling is always a good place to start if your spouse will agree to go. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to stop a divorce unless both spouses are willing to work together to save the marriage.

Can a no-fault divorce be stopped?

If a spouse has already filed for a no-fault divorce, the other spouse generally can’t stop the divorce from proceeding. In no-fault states, the court does not consider fault or misconduct when making decisions about divorce. This means the other spouse can’t contest it. The only way to stop a no-fault divorce is for the petitioner (the person who filed) to withdraw the divorce petition.

Can a fault divorce be stopped?

In states that recognize fault, a spouse may be able to stop (or delay) a divorce based on fault if they can prove that the grounds for the divorce aren’t valid.

For example, if one spouse files for divorce based on adultery, the other spouse may be able to stop the divorce if they can prove that the allegations of adultery are false. Similarly, if one spouse files for divorce based on desertion, the other spouse may be able to stop the divorce if they can prove that they did not abandon the marriage.

Defenses to a fault-based divorce include:

  • Condonation: When the injured spouse has forgiven the other spouse's misconduct. For example, if one spouse had an affair but the other spouse forgave them and continued to live with them, the spouse who forgave the affair may not be able to use adultery as grounds for divorce. 

  • Connivance: When one spouse encourages the other spouse to do something that is wrong. For example, if one spouse encourages the other to have an affair and then files for a divorce based on adultery. If a spouse encouraged or facilitated their partner’s infidelity, they cannot claim their spouse committed adultery as grounds for divorce.

  • Collusion: When both parties agree to fabricate or exaggerate the grounds for divorce and one spouse later decides to fight the case.

  • Recrimination: When both parties have engaged in similar misconduct, one party cannot use that misconduct as grounds for divorce without exposing their own misconduct.

  • Provocation: When one provokes the other to commit bad or immoral behavior. For example, an abusive spouse would have a hard time claiming abandonment if the other spouse left for their safety.

It's important to note that the defenses to a fault divorce can be complex and depend on the state laws where the divorce is filed. If you are considering contesting the grounds for divorce, you should consult with a family law attorney in your area to help you understand your options.

Even if you are able to successfully argue your case, a judge will probably grant the divorce eventually. After all, it would be wrong to force someone to stay married when they want out of the marriage.

Other options when you want to stop your divorce

In some state, you can file a counterclaim to the divorce petition and request counseling. A judge will likely grant this if there are children involved. For example, in Florida a judge can order up to three months of counseling to enable the couple to try and reconcile.

Just be aware that even if one partner requests marriage counseling, most states don’t mandate it. And it is unlikely to be ordered in cases where domestic violence is an issue. You should consult with your attorney to find out if this is an option in your situation.

Tips to stop divorce - Q & A

If you don't want your marriage to end, the following tips to stop divorce may help regain balance in your situation.

What should I do if he says that he's thinking about divorce?

Tina's Question: What should I do? My husband told me a few days ago that he is no longer in love with me. We have been married for almost 19 years. I've told him I don't want a divorce. He said he needed time to think and figure out what he wants to do. A friend advised me to consult with an attorney and let them know what is going on and if it comes to a divorce, then I already have things in motion to protect me and my 17 year old and 1 month old grandson.

Brette's Answer: Talking to an attorney is fine if you want to understand what your legal options are, but if you really want to save the marriage, it's not going to help. You need to first decide what it is you really want. A good therapist can help you with that. Good luck.

Is your relationships on the brink of divorce? Give it another chance with online couples counseling from BetterHelp. (*Please note our website receives compensation for referrals to BetterHelp.)

We started counseling, but he won't drop the divorce.

Judy's Question: My husband has already started the divorce proceedings. I have received the petition. I do not agree however that our problems are not reconcilable. We have started seeing a counselor. However he still refuses to put a hold on the divorce to give us time to see if we can work things out. What can I do at this point? I will be hiring my own attorney on Monday.

Brette's Answer: Get an attorney and talk to him or her. It is likely the two attorneys will agree to put things on hold for a while - neither of them wants to waste their time.

Can a divorce be stopped if we change our minds?

Neoka's Question: We have been separated for a few months now. After sitting down and talking about it, we realized we want to try and work things out. Problem is he had already filed for the divorce thinking it is what I wanted! Can this be stopped? Can it be switched to a legal separation for the time being?

Brette's Answer: He can most definitely stop the divorce proceedings. It sounds like the best plan might be to ask that the case be put on hold. If you do decide to get back together, he can withdraw the divorce. If it doesn't work out, then the money and time put into this won't be wasted. Have him call the clerk's office and they will help him. If you want a legal separation, he needs to file papers changing his petition to that.

Can we stop the divorce if he's already filed?

Cassie's Question: My husband has served me with divorce papers and I responded. Our first hearing is Feb 4th and we both want to call it off. Since both of our paper work has been filed, what would we both have to do to stop the divorce?

Brette's Answer: It is up to him to withdraw the case. Good luck.

Can I stop him from converting our separation into a divorce?

Robin's Question: My husband filed for a legal separation about 1 month ago and wants it converted into a divorce. I reluctantly signed separation papers and they were notarized. I was told he needs to do a deposition and then the divorce would be finalized. I do not want this divorce, can I stall it?

Brette: You're going to need the assistance of a lawyer to withdraw your consent.

Can I postpone the divorce instead of withdraw it?

Mary's Question: I am two months away from our divorce being finalized. Is there a way to put your divorce on hold from finalization rather than canceling it?

Brette's Answer: You can call the court and ask for a postponement. Good luck.

Can I ask the judge to postpone the divorce?

Stacy's Question: My husband is wanting a divorce, and I think he has already filed. Is there any way I could get a judge to grant us marriage counseling? My husband has a lot of issues and I don't think he's willing to face them. I can't get him to go to a marriage counselor, but I know we could work this out if we did. Can a judge order us to see a marriage counselor and post pone the divorce?

Brette's Answer: A judge won't order your husband to go to counseling. A judge can order you to go to mediation together however. What is a possibility is asking the court to postpone the proceedings, and then convincing him to go to counseling. Your lawyer may be able to get his lawyer to talk him into it - particularly if your lawyer plans on making the divorce difficult if he doesn't go with you. In the meantime, you might consider asking family or friends to talk to him.

Can I prevent a divorce from happening?

Traci's Question: My husband wants a divorce, but I think that he is conflicted about family and his dreams. If I refuse to divorce him, can I be legally forced to do so?

Brette's Answer: If you live in a state without recognized fault grounds for divorce you can't stop it. Otherwise, you can challenge the grounds for divorce so that he has to establish there are adequate grounds for divorce. Most people who challenge the grounds lose, however. You can ask the judge for reconciliation counseling. Have you suggested marital or individual counseling? That might help both of you get to the bottom of the situation.

Can I stop him from finalizing the divorce?

Linda's Question: We've been split up for 2 years. He has finally filed for divorce, and wants it to be over with. I am not ready for our marriage to be over regardless of what he says. I have told him I am going to prolong this as long as I can. I know this is wrong, but I want my family back together. Would he be able to finalize the divorce regardless of how difficult I make it for him? And if so, how long would that take for him to do that?

Brette's Answer: It is possible for you to contest the actual divorce itself. Doing so means you will have to have a grounds trial. During a grounds trial, the court will determine if your husband can prove that adequate legal grounds exist for the divorce to be granted. Grounds trials are rare and in the majority of cases, the court finds that a sufficient ground for divorce exists. Obviously if your husband is asking for a divorce, your marriage does have some problems. A good marriage counselor may be able to help him articulate those problems and help the two of you find a way to cope with them.

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