You and your spouse felt like divorce was for the best when you filed it. Then, after filing it with the court the seriousness and finality of the situation set in and one of you changed your mind. This can sometimes lead couples to rethink whether they are certain that divorce is the right decision. If this is the case, then in Alabama you can stop the divorce process once you file as long as the final decree has not been signed by the judge. There are a couple of things to keep in mind about this process.
Alabama law requires a “cooling off” period of thirty days after filing for divorce. The intent of this law is to allow couples a time to reflect and change their mind if they want to. It is a time to make sure that divorce is really what both of you want. This is the easiest time to ask the Court to stop the divorce process, because that’s precisely what the thirty day cooling off period is designed for. Thirty days from the time your divorce is filed is the fastest turnaround legally possible for a divorce in Alabama. This is due to the aforementioned cooling off requirement, but practically speaking, most uncontested divorces take slightly longer than that to process through the courts anyway.
The spouse that wants to file for divorce is called the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff files the Complaint for divorce with the court. When you file a Complaint for Divorce then your spouse will have to respond to the filing with an Answer. The responding spouse is the Defendant. If you and your spouse decide to stop the divorce process, the Plaintiff, or their divorce attorney in an uncontested divorce, should call the Court to see where their Complaint is in the process. If the Defendant has not responded yet, the Plaintiff can unilaterally stop the divorce by filing a Petition for Dismissal of their Complaint. If the Defendant has responded, both of you will have to consent to dismissing the case in a contested divorce, but in an uncontested divorce the Plaintiff is the one that can unilaterally dismiss the Complaint prior to decree being entered. The reason a contested divorce is different, is that the Defendant has field a counterclaim that the judge will have to address at some point.
While the court clerks are generally helpful and can tell you what to file, if you and your spouse decide to stop the divorce process you should discuss this with your local divorce lawyer first. They can give you advice about the best way to stop the divorce based on where you are in the process. Some couples can spend thousands on a contested divorce even before a divorce is finalized. Attorneys’ fees, alternative living arrangements, and other such contingencies can all add up. If you stop your divorce, you should be aware you will likely not get back any of the money you have spent so far.
Uncontested divorces are cheaper and faster ways to get divorced. An uncontested case is where the couples agree up front on who gets what and file an agreement when the divorce is filed. Uncontested divorces are typically easier to halt and don’t involve losing as much money as contested divorces.