Divorce can be a complicated and emotionally charged process, and it’s not uncommon for couples to have second thoughts along the way. Clients often ask, “At what point can we stop the divorce?” The answer to this question depends on where you are in the divorce process. In this blog post, we’ll explore the two key timelines that determine when you can halt the divorce proceedings and what actions you need to take in each scenario.
Stopping a Divorce in Progress
If you find yourself in the middle of your divorce case, even if you’ve already signed the judgment and submitted it to the court, there’s still a window of opportunity to stop the process. Most courts have a processing timeline that typically ranges from three to four months. Let’s consider a hypothetical situation:
Today is September 27th, and you’ve turned in your settlement package and judgment package to the court for review. If the judge has not yet reviewed and approved the judgment, you can file a simple request for dismissal. This request only needs to be signed by the petitioner if the response from the other party has not been filed. If both parties have filed responses, both must sign the request for dismissal.
If the dismissal request is filed before the judgment is reviewed and approved, the case will be dismissed. The court will note the dismissal when they review the judgment package, and your divorce proceedings will come to an end.
After the Judge Signs the Judgment
However, if the judgment has already been signed by the judge, things become more complicated. Even if the six-month waiting period hasn’t passed yet, you can no longer simply sign a request for dismissal because the divorce has been ordered and finalized.
In some areas like Los Angeles County, divorces can move quickly, with procedural approval by the judge occurring in as little as five weeks. However, once the judgment is entered and finalized, you must file a “request for order” to have the judgment set aside. This process is not as straightforward as filing a dismissal request. It involves filing a motion with the court and speaking to the judge about setting the judgment aside.
The challenge here is that it can take up to two and a half months to secure a hearing date in most courthouses in Los Angeles County. If you’re close to the six-month mark when the divorce becomes final, it’s possible that your divorce will be completed before you even get a chance to have the judgment set aside.
In some cases, you may try to expedite the process by seeking an emergency hearing, but the court may not always view it as an emergency. This can lead to further delays, and by the time your hearing date arrives, your divorce may already be finalized.
The Importance of Being Certain
The takeaway from this is clear: be absolutely sure about your decision to proceed with or halt the divorce process. If you have any doubts, it’s essential to give yourself ample time for consideration and discussion with your spouse.
If you’re on the fence about divorce, the best course of action is not to submit your judgment to the court for review. Hold onto it and take the time you need to make a well-informed decision. This approach can save you from the complexities and potential complications that can arise if you change your mind after the judgment has been signed.
In a recent case, we had clients who were about to submit their judgment for review but decided to wait and reconsider. This decision allowed them the flexibility to revisit their choices in the future without the pressure of an impending divorce finalization.
In conclusion, while it’s possible to stop a divorce at various stages of the process, the ease with which you can do so depends on the progress of your case and the specific requirements of your jurisdiction. To avoid unnecessary complications, it’s crucial to be certain about your decision before reaching the point of no return in the divorce process. If you ever find yourself in doubt, consult with a legal expert to understand your options fully.