How to Withdraw a Divorce Petition
By Roger Thorne J.D.
Updated July 21, 2017
Not every divorce filing results in a divorce decree. Sometimes parties withdraw the divorce before a judge issues a ruling. Divorces are lawsuits, and like all lawsuits they begin with the filing of specific documents, often called a petition or a complaint. While the laws of divorce and civil procedure differ from state to state, all states allow you to withdraw your divorce petition as long as you meet certain conditions.
Talk with your attorney about withdrawing your petition. The rules and procedures for withdrawing or dismissing your divorce motion vary between jurisdictions, and your attorney will know how to proceed in your case.
Contact the clerk of the court. If you are not represented by counsel, you can contact the clerk of the civil court in the county where you filed your divorce petition, and ask how you can withdraw or dismiss your case. Some courts require that you file specific kinds of paperwork, while other might allow you to appear in person before the judge, and ask to have your case dismissed.
File a motion to dismiss. You can withdraw a divorce petition at any time before a judge enters a divorce decree. If you filed the original petition, and your spouse has not filed a response, you can withdraw the petition without having to get your spouse to agree, according to the Northwest Justice Project's "Dismissing Your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce)." Usually, you must file a motion to dismiss with the court, though the laws of your state may require something else.
Serve the motion. Just like filing a divorce, you have to notify your spouse that you've filed documents with the court. According to The Cornell University Law School Legal Information Institute, this is called service of process. Make sure you properly serve the motion to dismiss on your spouse, in accordance with your state's service of process laws.
Contact your spouse and ask her for a dismissal. Sometimes it may be necessary to have both parties dismiss a divorce case. For example, according to the Oskaloosa County, Florida, Clerk of the Circuit Court's website, both you and your spouse must voluntarily dismiss a divorce case.
Contact your state's bar association if you don't have an attorney and can't afford one. Ask what services are available for indigent legal services. You may be able to get free or pro-rated legal assistance from a Legal Aid Society of pro bono attorney.
Always talk to an attorney first. Not only must you ensure you take the right steps when withdrawing your petition, but you must also be sure what impact this act has on you and your rights. Only an attorney is qualified to give you legal advice about your particular case.
Roger Thorne is an attorney who began freelance writing in 2003. He has written for publications ranging from "MotorHome" magazine to "Cruising World." Thorne specializes in writing for law firms, Web sites, and professionals. He has a Juris Doctor from the University of Kansas.