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Divorce law blog

We’ve changed our minds halfway through a divorce. Is it too late?

20/06/2017   By: Holly Hill

If you and your spouse have decided to make a go of things again, it is possible to stop your divorce right up until the granting of your decree absolute. After this you will officially be divorced, your marriage will have been dissolved and there is no going back, unless you decide to remarry.

The first step in the divorce process is to send the court your completed divorce petition. If you have only got this far, you will need to write to the court explaining what has happened and asking them to withdraw your petition.

As the divorce progresses, the court makes two decrees:

  • first is the decree nisi, a provisional order which confirms that the court is satisfied your marriage has broken down irretrievably; and
  • second is the decree absolute, a final order which ends your marriage permanently.

The person asking for the divorce (the petitioner or applicant) has to wait six weeks and one day after decree nisi before applying for decree absolute. Traditionally, this was a cooling off period, giving couples the chance to reconsider.

If you are at this stage, you and your spouse can apply for the decree nisi to be rescinded and the divorce petition dismissed. Once that’s happened, if you change your minds and want a divorce after all, you’ll have to start the whole process again from the beginning which means issuing a new petition. Be warned that reconciling may mean you are unable to use adultery as a ground for your divorce in your new petition. Talk to a family lawyer if you think this might apply to you.

If you are the petitioner and you’ve changed your mind about divorcing and simply don’t apply for decree absolute but the feeling isn’t mutual, your ex (the respondent) can apply for decree absolute after three months, six weeks and one day.

However, if you’ve already applied for your decree absolute it is important that you speak to a family lawyer or the family court as soon as possible to stop the court from finalising your divorce.

If you’re unsure about whether divorce is the right decision, it is often worth exploring counselling, which can help you (and your spouse) try to resolve problems within your relationship as well as manage any decision you take to separate.

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