Second thoughts after filing for divorce are not uncommon. While a case is pending, couples often decide that they would like to try to reconcile and work out their differences instead of going through with the divorce. People often ask me if they can stop the divorce if they change their mind. The answer is: it depends.
If both parties agree that they want to stop the divorce, the answer is an easy yes. In this situation, the parties can agree to nonsuit their divorce action and the case will be dismissed by the court, no questions asked. The document filed with the court is called a notice of nonsuit.
Likewise, if only one spouse has filed affirmative pleadings in a case, that spouse can unilaterally decide to nonsuit their claims. This will stop the divorce. But since a party’s notice of nonsuit only dismisses that party’s claims, one party cannot unilaterally stop a divorce by filing a nonsuit because the other party’s claims (and the divorce) will still remain pending.
Once a party files a notice of nonsuit, their claims will typically be dismissed without prejudice. This means that if the parties want to re-file their divorce at another time then they are not prohibited from doing so. It is important to note that dismissal is final, by a notice of nonsuit or otherwise. It does not press “pause” on the divorce or hold it while the parties make up their minds. In the event attempts at reconciliation are unsuccessful, the parties will have to re-file their divorce action.
It is possible to continue hearings or trial dates while parties attempt reconciliation, but the court is not likely to postpone the resolution of a case indefinitely or allow the case to remain on the docket for years. While the litigation can be stalled for a little while, at some point parties attempting reconciliation will have to decide whether to nonsuit their case and dismiss the divorce or whether to move forward with ending their marriage.