Can I Change My Mind After Signing Divorce Papers?
Divorce is a big deal, and it is meant to be final. It signals a big shift in your life, so it’s normal to have doubts throughout the process. For some people, those doubts grow, and they find themselves reuniting with their spouse before finalizing the divorce process. But what happens if you’ve signed all the papers and the divorce has concluded? What are your options? Keep reading to learn your options if you change your mind before, during, or after your New Jersey divorce. For more specific answers, talk to a seasoned New Jersey divorce attorney if you have questions about a pending, future, or finalized divorce in New Jersey.
Dropping the Case Early On
If you file for divorce and change your mind early on in the proceedings (such as before the other party even files a response), you can voluntarily dismiss the case. If the petition has yet to even be filed, you might even be able to withdraw the petition before a case is created (although you’ll have to explain the situation to the county clerk to make sure the petition is withdrawn and find out whether any other paperwork is required under county rules).
Even if the petition is filed and you or your spouse has filed an answer, and legal proceedings have been carried forward in the matter, the parties can agree to dismiss the case. The parties can file a joint stipulation letting the court know they no longer wish to proceed with the divorce. Courts are perfectly happy to let parties drop a legal matter that is no longer necessary and will almost certainly grant a jointly requested dismissal of the case.
After Judgment: The Divorce is Final
Once the court issues its final judgment, however, incorporating the divorce settlement and all other issues decided upon during the divorce, the proceeding is final and the legal effect of the divorce is in place. The parties are divorced, like it or not. You might be able to get the court to reverse the decision if less than 30 days have passed, but after that, you may be out of luck. At that point, the parties cannot simply reverse the court’s decision or dismiss the case and pretend like it never happened. There is also no real ground to appeal the court’s judgment on the divorce once it is final, even if the parties have changed their minds.
The parties can reunite and remarry, which might have legal consequences for things like alimony, child support, and child custody arrangements (namely, those things may become superfluous). But, the parties will have to go through the proper legal process to remarry. Talk to your family law attorney about remarriage and how it can affect your legal rights and obligations altered by the divorce.
Ending the Case After Settlement
While you can technically ask the court to dismiss the case at any time before a final judgment is issued, the matter can become more complex if you have signed any other binding legal documents in the meantime. If the parties have executed a divorce settlement agreement, that settlement technically has the legal force of a contract even before the court incorporates the settlement into a judgment and gives it the force of law. While you might be able to stop the court from issuing a final decree incorporating the settlement agreement, you will still have to contend with the settlement in its own right.
Talk to your attorney about how to get out of a settlement agreement that has been signed and executed. You may need to take additional legal steps to ensure that the settlement is no longer legally binding.
If you’re considering divorce in New Jersey, call the seasoned and dedicated Union family law attorney John B. D’Alessandro for a consultation.