Wondering if a divorce can be put on hold? If one or both of you have already filed papers, the divorce proceedings can be put on hold for 60 – 90 days (depending on where you live) by filing a motion to abate with the court. If neither of you filed papers with the court yet and you are merely “legally separated”, you could put finalizing the divorce on hold for as long as you wish.
Divorce can be a painful and lengthy process, no matter how many years you have been married. Filing for divorce often makes couples pause and wonder if it is really necessary or if they can perhaps save the marriage. In instances like these, you may opt to put the divorce on hold while you figure it out. But, how long can you put your divorce on hold before you need to decide?
It will be good if you take a few factors into account when deciding whether to put your divorce on hold or not. For instance, you might perhaps want to consider what the implications might be in terms of temporary court orders that will remain in effect during this time.
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How Long Can a Divorce Be Put on Hold, and How Does It Work?
Should you wish to take some time to reflect and work on your marriage before deciding whether to go through with the divorce, you can take as much time as you need if no documents have been filed with the court yet. If you have already filed papers, you can file a motion to abate the proceedings with the court.
After filing a motion to abate, the divorce proceedings will be put on hold for 60 – 90 days, depending on where you live. If you wish to continue with the divorce at the end of this period, you will have to file a motion to continue with the divorce proceedings.
If you are still unsure whether you wish to proceed with the divorce at the end of the hold period, you can apply for the hold to be extended. The judge presiding over your case will then decide whether to grant the extension, based on whether they feel there is a good chance for reconciliation.
During the hold period, any temporary orders that have been granted while the divorce proceedings are in progress will remain in force. For example, if you have children together, the interim order regarding visitation and custody will apply until you have decided on your divorce.
If you decide to reconcile by the end of the hold period, you will file a voluntary motion to dismiss the dissolution. If only one of you filed your documents with the court, the one who filed their documents is the only one that needs to sign this form. However, if both of you have filed your documents with the court, you both need to sign the form.
It might also be good for you to note that if you decide to reconcile and dismiss the divorce proceedings altogether, you will have to start the whole process from scratch should you decide to get divorced later. It also includes the filing fee, which you will have to pay again.
What Should You Do During the Time Your Divorce Is on Hold?
Once you have successfully filed a motion to abate the divorce proceedings with the court, you and your spouse should think things through together. It might be a good idea to seek couples or marriage counselor who can help you work through your issues. A good counselor can also effectively mediate the difficult discussions you need to have.
If you and your spouse are not comfortable discussing your problems with a third party at all, you could perhaps also consider doing some exercises together on your own. There are many free online marriage counseling resources available with activities in which you can participate. These exercises might help you resolve your differences and find mutually beneficial solutions and compromises.
How Can You Try to Resolve the Issues in Your Marriage?
It will be good for the two of you to be completely honest and transparent with each other about the issues that led you to consider getting divorced, no matter how hard it might be. If neither of you knows what is really bothering the other person or why there will be no way to resolve the issues in your marriage.
Also, while you should certainly get a chance to express your feelings about the things your spouse did to make you unhappy, it is vital to also listen to your spouse’s feelings in turn. As hard as it may be to face, none of us is perfect, and we all make mistakes. If you genuinely want to give your marriage a “fighting” chance, both of you will need to consider each other’s feelings, without getting defensive.
Allow your spouse to share their feelings without interrupting them. Listen to your partner intently and try to put yourself in their shoes. It will also be good for you to take responsibility for your role in the breakdown of your marriage. It is also an excellent time to work on any unresolved issues you might have, such as childhood traumas or past relationship hurts, that might affect your marriage negatively.
How Do You Handle Conflict During the Hard Conversations?
Trying to work through the issues in your marriage, especially if you are already at the point of considering a divorce, is likely to cause some conflict. There are, however, some strategies you can employ to resolve these conflicts and keep the discussions going.
For instance, experts recommend that you and your spouse do not blame each other but rather address how your partner’s actions make you feel and why it makes you feel this way.
Use “I” statements to discuss how you feel, rather than “you” statements assigning blame to your partner. For example, saying “I feel hurt when we fight” instead of “You always yell” is a much more effective communication style. It will allow both of you to reflect on your actions without feeling the need to become defensive and stray from the main issues.
Experts also recommend attempting to resolve one source of conflict at a time rather than trying to resolve multiple issues at once. Therefore, do not bring up another issue or past hurt during an argument about something unrelated.
How Can You Know If You Should Stay Married or Get Divorced?
The only way to determine if it will be in your best interest to stay married or to proceed with your divorce will be to address your marital issues with your spouse. If you cannot find mutually beneficial solutions to your problems after multiple attempts from both of you, it might be better to proceed with the divorce amicably.
You should seriously consider divorce if your spouse abuses you, especially if it has ever gotten physical. Physical abuse usually escalates over time, even if it starts small, especially if your partner is angered easily. If you have children, consider the trauma and fear caused by them having to watch your spouse abuse you. The trauma will impact your children for the rest of their lives.
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If you and your partner would like to take some time to reflect on whether you can save your marriage or not, you can put your divorce on hold as long as you would like if no documents have been filed with the court yet. If you have filed papers with the court, it should be possible for you to put your divorce on hold for 60 – 90 days, depending on where you live.
It is essential to take this time to do whatever you can as a couple to try and determine if you will be able to resolve your marital issues or if a divorce will be in your best interest. It might be good to see a marriage counselor who can mediate the difficult discussions you will be having and help resolve the conflict that is likely to arise during these challenging conversations.
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After earning his Master of Social Work from the University of Toronto, Stuart gained experience working with families in community mental health settings and in the child protection sector. Since becoming a father himself, Stuart now works in private practice offering psychotherapy services. FatherResource is an opportunity for Stuart to share what he learns on his journey as a father with a larger audience.