What To Do if You File for Divorce and Then Change Your Mind

Much to our dismay, the couple once lovingly known by the public as “Bennifer,” a.k.a. Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck, announced back in June of 2015 that they were going to get a divorce. This was just before the couple’s 10-year anniversary. They reportedly consulted with legal counsel, mediators, and business managers, and agreed that they wouldn’t file the actual divorce papers until after they mediated and resolved all of the issues surrounding custody and property division.

Now over a year since the divorce news broke, neither Jen nor Ben has actually taken the plunge and filed a divorce petition. While Ben has been fairly open about the fact that he never wanted to split from Jen, it finally sounds like the divorce is officially off the table. In their case, the couple is pretty lucky that they didn’t yet file their divorce paperwork. Although it is not difficult to have a divorce petition dismissed, they did not have to bother with the extra steps necessary in actually filing for divorce and then filing a request for a dismissal.

It is cases like Ben and Jen’s that serve to demonstrate the rationale behind California’s mandatory 6-month waiting period before a divorce can be granted in this state. This wait period is called the “cooling-off period.” It is meant to prevent a person from making a rash decision to divorce, only later to work things out and have to go through the whole process to get remarried again. Let’s face it, we are all human, and as humans we are often guilty of making decisions based off of emotions. The 6-month cooling-off period essentially protects people from their own emotions.

If you have filed for a divorce, but for whatever reason you change your mind and decide not to follow through, dismissing your divorce is not difficult. If you haven’t already served your spouse with the divorce petition, or you have served the petition but no response has been filed, you can dismiss the divorce case on your own. You can simply complete, sign and file the form CIV-110, titled “Request for Dismissal.” However, if you have already served your spouse with the petition and your spouse filed a response with the court, then your spouse will also have to sign the CIV-110 form thereby providing his or her consent to the dismissal. This signature requirement exists to ensure that both parties are interested in reconciling. If you file for a divorce and change your mind, but your spouse had already filed a response and isn’t on board with that decision, then the dissolution will proceed.

Keep in mind that if you elect to dismiss your case and later decide to divorce again, you will have to start from scratch. This includes having to pay the first filing fee again, which is currently $435 in San Diego County. As such, just as you shouldn’t make a rash decision to get a divorce, you shouldn’t make a rash decision to dismiss your divorce either. Take some time and think things through first.

If you are considering filing for divorce or seeking information regarding dismissal of a pending divorce action, it is wise to consult with a competent family law professional to understand your rights and responsibilities, and the legal effects of your decision. The attorneys at Bickford Blado & Botros have years of experience practicing exclusively in family law and take the time to work with each client to determine the right path for them.

Please contact us if you are considering a divorce from your spouse, a legal separation, or have questions regarding dismissing your divorce Petition. Nancy J. Bickford is the only Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) in San Diego County who is also a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Don’t settle for less when determining your rights. Call 858-793-8884 in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, North County or San Diego.


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