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Dismissing a divorce

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Every once in awhile, someone will file a divorce or legal separation and then change their mind about it. How does one properly go and dismiss a divorce or separation case that has been filed with the court?

  1. Voluntary notice of dismissal. If you haven’t yet personally served your spouse, or if they have been served but have failed to respond within the appropriate 20 day time frame by filing a proper response to the petition for divorce, you can dismiss with a notice of voluntary notice of dismissal that is filed with the court, with a copy sent to your spouse. The dismissal should be “without prejudice,” meaning, if you change your mind again, you have the right to refile the case. If you were to dismiss “with prejudice,” arguably, from a purely technical legal perspective, the court might bar you from ever filing for divorce again.

2. Stipulation and Order for Dismissal. If your spouse has appeared in the action and filed the proper response to the initial petition, you cannot dismiss the case without the consent of the other party.  This is usually done with a formal stipulation and order for dismissal that the parties sign, and send to the court for approval. I raise the same issue as to dismissing “without prejudice, “meaning, it can be refiled by either party in the future, if there is a need for doing so.

3. Stipulation and order for 90 day reconciliation. The parties can agree to enter into a 90 day hold on their divorce case while they attempt to reconcile. After the 90 days, if the parties are reconciled, at that point, the case can be dismissed. If they are not reconciled after 90 days, you can proceed with the divorce. You can also revoke the 90 day suspension upon notice to the court if the reconciliation fails prior to 90 days expiring.

4. Formal motion to dismiss. If a party attempts to dismiss and the other party objects, you can always file a motion with the court, with notice to the other side, to request a dismissal of the case. If one party wants a dismissal, and the other party wants to proceed by getting a divorce, assuming they have appeared in the action and filed a proper response within the 20 day requirement, chances are the court is going to deny a motion to dismiss, over the objection of the other.

If you have questions on divorce law in the state of Wisconsin, contact the experienced family lawyers at Karp & Iancu, S.C. today for a free consultation.

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