Couples may decide to get a divorce after years of thinking about it. Others may file for divorce immediately after finding out about an affair or other sudden changes in the relationship. Anywhere between immediately after filing or after a week of separation, one or both spouses may have a change of mind. They may want to think about it longer, get counseling, or realize that divorce is not the best option.
If the divorce has not been ordered by the judge or divorce papers have not been signed, there is generally an option to put the divorce proceedings on hold or cancel the filing. If you have any questions about filing for divorce in Missouri, contact the Higher Level Legal Law Firm today at 816-331-9968.
How Long After Filing Can You Change Your Mind?
The amount of time you have to change your mind after filing for divorce is the time between filing for divorce and when the divorce is entered by the court. The divorce process can take anywhere from 30 days to many months in Missouri, depending on the situation.
Generally, 30 days is the minimum amount of time to get divorced. At a minimum, you will have 30 days after filing to change your mind. Missouri requires 30 days from filing before the order can be granted and the divorce becomes official. This is generally only possible with an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce is a divorce where there is nothing in dispute that the court needs to decide.
If the divorce is contested, where the couple is in dispute over child custody, alimony, property division, or other issues in the divorce, the process can take a few months or even a year. The judge can grant a divorce while some issues are still in dispute, so the amount of time to change your mind is until the judge grants the divorce.
Once the divorce order is entered, the divorce is finalized. The court cannot generally go back and un-grant the divorce because a spouse changes their mind. The only way to set aside a divorce judgment may be to show there was some procedural problem like one spouse was never given notice of the divorce filing.
Alternatively, a divorce order may not be effective if the couple was not eligible for divorce or not subject to the court's jurisdiction, such as they were never married or neither couple resided in Missouri for 90 days before filing.
Only One Spouse Wants a Divorce
Missouri is a no-fault divorce state. This means that only one spouse needs to file for divorce and can do so for any reason or for no specific reason.
Under Missouri Revised Statute § 452.320.2, “if one of the parties has denied under oath or affirmation that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including the circumstances that gave rise to the filing of the petition and the prospect of reconciliation. ”
The court may consider the following factors to find that the marriage is irretrievably broken:
- Respondent has committed adultery and the petitioner finds it intolerable to live with the respondent;
- Respondent has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent;
- Respondent has abandoned the petitioner for a continuous period of at least six months preceding the presentation of the petition;
- The parties to the marriage have lived separate and apart by mutual consent for a continuous period of twelve months immediately preceding the filing of the petition; or
- The parties to the marriage have lived separate and apart for a continuous period of at least twenty-four months preceding the filing of the petition.
Alternatively, the court can put off the decision for a period of 30 days to 6 months, and then reconsider the matter. During this time, the court may suggest the parties to seek counseling.
Living Separately and Apart
Some states have a requirement that the couple live separately and apart for a minimum amount of time before a divorce can be granted. There is no separate and apart requirement for Missouri divorces. However, living separately and apart can be a factor in showing the court that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
Living separately and apart is also a way for the couple to think about whether a divorce is the right option. Living separately can help simulate what it will be like in a divorce, where the spouses will not see each other on a daily basis. Living separately also makes some spouses change their mind and realize that they do not want to get a divorce.
Counseling in a Divorce
Whether ordered by the court or sought out voluntarily by the spouses, counseling may be another alternative for helping a couple decide whether divorce is the right option. Even if one or both spouses do not think they need counseling or that counseling will not change anything, it may give each side an opportunity to talk about the issues in a divorce, listen to the other side, and improve communication skills that can help them in the future.
Staying Together for the Children
Many couples decide they want to stay together for the children or until the children reach a certain age or go away to college. There may not be any “best” time to get a divorce and staying together may actually make the relationship worse for the parents and the children. Talk to your family law attorney about options for getting a divorce and whether staying together is your best option.
Changing Your Spouse's Mind to Not Get a Divorce
In a contested divorce, one spouse may not want to go through with the divorce. A spouse may want to work on the marriage, fix any problems, or not believe in divorce for religious reasons. Unfortunately for that spouse, only one person needs to want a divorce for the process to continue. Depending on the other spouse, it may be very difficult or impossible to change their mind. Talk to your family law attorney about options for opposing a divorce.
Divorce After Medical or Financial Emergency
A medical emergency, diagnosis of illness, loss of a job, bankruptcy, or even the coronavirus pandemic may suddenly change the couple's dynamic. Medical and financial emergencies may create financial stress, increasing fights, arguments, and even violence. Emergencies can also force the spouse together for long periods of time, such as during extended stay-at-home orders with the children.
An emergency situation may cause an emergency reaction, including wanting to get a divorce. Sometimes the emergency reaction changes after life returns to normal. However, it may act as a wake-up call for a spouse who has been unhappy in the marriage for a long time.
Understand Your Options for Divorce in Missouri
If you are unsure about whether to go through with a divorce, try to work it out, or want to know your options, contact the Higher Level Legal Law Firm in Raymore today. Contact us online or by calling (816) 331-9968.