I DO. NOW I DON’T. OH WAIT, MAYBE I STILL DO!

It was recently reported that Glee alum Naya Rivera filed to dismiss her divorce from actor, Ryan Dorsey, to whom she was married for two years and shares a two year-old son. Rivera states she “is doing great!”  They certainly aren’t the first well-known pair to call it quits on their divorce; Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, Billy Ray and Tish Cyrus, and Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green are but a few celebrities in the news who dismissed their divorce filings.  Which begs the question: under what circumstances should you reconsider going through with your divorce and is it ever a good idea to have second thoughts as you’re going through the process?

But I Still Love Him

            Divorce is a highly emotional process, to say the least.  Women typically don’t initiate a divorce on a whim.  A great deal of thought and grief goes into making that huge decision.  But remember: a divorce can be rescinded at any time before it is final.  When is it a good time to reconsider?

            * You and your husband discuss the real reasons for the split.  Feeling lonely in your marriage may look like a reason but there are causes for the loneliness.  Infidelity doesn’t come out of nowhere either.  Lack of communication is a symptom of one or both partners not feeling safe to talk.  In other words, what looks like the reason may actually be part of a larger cluster of underlying problems.

            * You and your husband have sought counseling.  Whether it is with a therapist or clergy, you have both committed to talking openly and honestly about the difficulties in your relationship and you have each taken responsibility for your part in it’s demise.

            * You have taken a clear-eyed look at what you previously ignored.  Was your husband emotionally or verbally cruel? Was he an absent father? Did he prioritize outside activities or friendships over you and the family?  Did he engage in recurrent affairs or substance use?  What did you choose to ignore or minimize and what are you willing to toe the line on now?

            * You have waited a good amount of time to witness change.  That doesn’t mean two weeks or even two months but you have seen consistent change on the behaviors you asked for over a longer period of time.  You have also continued counseling individually and together for several months.

What Are the Legal Impacts?

 It really depends how far down the road you are in the divorce process:

              * Early dismissal. In this case Rivera alone dismissed her divorce filing in California.  This implies Dorsey had not yet responded to or been served with the divorce action, and she was able to simply file the dismissal on her own.  Rivera didn’t need his permission and he didn’t need to be involved.  Very little had happened other than her filing the initial paperwork, so the legal implications were minimal because nothing really happened.  Her investment of emotion, time and money were all very low, making it easier to make the call to pull out. 

              * Dismissal down the road. Once the other spouse gets involved, things get tricky.  For example, if Dorsey had filed a response to her divorce request, a whole new set of circumstances can play out:

It takes two  

Now, if Rivera had wanted to dismiss the case, her husband would have had to agree and sign the dismissal form.  When you think about it, it makes sense.  It would be wholly unfair to give the filing party the unilateral right to dismiss the divorce at any time.  Rivera would have extra power and could, if she chose, use it to manipulate the divorce process. 

Time & Money

The further the parties go in the divorce process; the more time and money are expended.  The greater the investment, the harder it is to throw it all away and dismiss the case. 

Showing Your Cards  

As you go deeper in the divorce process, each party is required to disclose financial information and communicate what they want.  Maybe there are no surprises and the couple is on the same page.  Or maybe they learn something new, like they want more time with the children or are taking a surprising financial position.  You can’t un-ring that bell and it could cause one spouse to take precautions moving forward it they decide to stay married.