Learning your wife wants a divorce is a very hard reality. After hearing the news, your mind may race to ways to stop it. But most importantly, is that even possible? Some couples do reconcile after filing for divorce. However, no state requires that a couple remain married if even one person wants the divorce. The only way to stop or prevent a divorce is the change of heart of the party seeking a divorce, meaning you may not be able to change her mind.
Read on to learn about the basic tenets of divorce every person should know, including the very few ways that a divorce can be stopped.
My Wife Wants a Divorce – Can I Change Her Mind?
Either a husband or wife can initiate divorce proceedings of their own will, and without consulting the other spouse. In fact, sometimes it is best to avoid discussing the possibility of filing if you are concerned how the other person may react.
Regardless of which spouse initiates the case, the same basic tenets hold true. The person who started the case will need to have the other person personally served.
Sometimes law enforcement officers or private process servers deliver the paperwork to the receiving spouse. While that may seem intense or over-the-top, it is a basic procedural rule meant to ensure notice.
It will be your choice whether or not you want to participate in the case. However, if you choose to ignore it, orders may be entered that you do not like.
After you have been served, it gives the court the ability to proceed with or without you. Remember that if you opt out of appearing for court or filing paperwork, the court will only know your wife’s perspective.
What Happens in a Divorce Case?
Ultimately, the end product of a divorce case is a decree of dissolution of marriage signed by a judge or other judicial officer. This document makes the divorce official and final.
As a part of that final order, the court will enter final orders regarding the division of property and debt. If you have children together, the court will also enter orders regarding the children.
In many cases, parties agree how to divide their things and how to plan time with their children. In those types of cases, the spouses will file joint settlement agreements with the court. The court can then make those agreements the final court order.
This type of compromise can be reached either on your own or through mediation. This type of resolution is recommended to avoid having a stranger make decisions that will impact the most important parts of your life.
Reaching a settlement also minimizes surprise. You never know how you will seem in a trial or whether the judge will agree with your viewpoint.
If you are unable to agree, ultimately the judge will decide all property and child issues for you. You can expect to have a hearing where you can present evidence and witnesses.
An attorney can help you file paperwork with the court and can represent you at a hearing. Attorneys also give you advice about what strategy to use.
What if I Don’t Want a Divorce?
In the United States, someone does not have to remain in a marriage that they do not want to be in.
All 50 states recognize a no-fault divorce. This means that neither party has to prove wrong-doing or any other specific facts.
TV and movies often harken back to the days of fault-based divorce when people would have to do outlandish things just to get divorced.
Do not confuse state-mandated waiting periods with forced reconciliation. Most states have a cooling off period that prevents a divorce decree from being entered immediately upon filing.
To get a divorce, either spouse just has to assert a generic reason established by that state. These are things like “irreconcilable differences,” that the marriage is “irretrievably broken,” or that there is a “irremediable breakdown of the marriage.”
The non-filing spouse may dispute that the marriage is irretrievably broken. The court will still find that the grounds for divorce are met as long as the other spouse does not change their mind.
What if She Does Change Her Mind?
Divorce cases can be stopped if both parties agree to drop the case. Parties can file paperwork with the court to end the case.
If this happens, the case will be closed. However, either spouse can file a new case in the future.
Would a Separation be Better?
A legal separation is an option in the majority of states. In a separation, parties remain married but receive court orders regarding finances and children.
Some people choose a separation when their religion prohibits divorce. Others do it to remain married for the purposes of collecting retirement or health benefits.
Many states allow either party to automatically convert the separation to a divorce without further court proceedings.
How Do I Change Her Mind?
If you want to stay married, you will have to try to improve the circumstances that make your wife want a divorce.
Every person’s reason for a divorce will be unique. Here are a few of the most common reasons for divorce:
- Lack of commitment
- Substance abuse
If none of these sound applicable, your first step will be figuring out her reason for divorce.
Ultimately, you cannot make someone stay with you. And you should not want someone to stay with you out of desperation.
The only way forward is repairing the marriage to make it worth keeping.
Tips for Repairing a Marriage on the Brink of Divorce
The key to success will be looking at the state of the marriage from your spouse’s perspective. If you are not ready to do that, then make peace with the idea of divorce. Embrace the planning of the next chapter of your life!
If you are reading this and wondering why your spouse doesn’t have to look at it from your perspective, remember these things: 1) They are the one seeking a divorce, and; 2) You are the one trying to stop the divorce.
They are ready and willing to walk away. They may no longer care about your perspective.
Evaluate How You Each Benefit From and Contribute to the Relationship
If you don’t understand why the divorce is happening, consider what you bring to and get from the marriage. Understanding why your spouse wants out is the only way to fix the problem.
Oftentimes, humans are spectacularly bad at expressing their needs. We are afraid or unable to say what we really want.
A spouse asking to go out to dinner or parties more often may be asking for more quality time with you. Or it could be an attempt to feel special, valued, or desirable.
Go to Individual Therapy
We will touch on couples’ counseling next. Before you try to begin to fix the marriage, you have to work on yourself.
A therapist can help you understand why you want to stay with your partner. Hopefully, honesty with your therapist will help you see your spouse’s perspective about ending the relationship.
Doing the work to see a therapist on your own will demonstrate to your spouse that you are invested in working on the relationship.
More importantly, it shows that you are not putting it all on them. Individual work acknowledges you have a role in the state of the marriage.
Try Marriage Therapy
If your spouse is willing, you two can try marriage therapy. Ideally, marriage counseling will help you two strengthen the way you communicate. Many couples learn to better deal with conflict and discord.
If your troubles stem from past events, therapy can help you both process and reframe the past. Sometimes all people need is a way to talk about it in a productive manner and fresh eyes. For therapy to be successful, but parties must be willing participants.
Deal with Any Substance Abuse
Know that if your spouse thinks you have a substance abuse problem, it will likely be a deal-breaker. Remember, it is your spouse’s perception that matters here.
If you can afford it, try a treatment program. Demonstrate your ability to live sober.
Address the Finances of the Marriage Head-On
A growing number of people say they end their divorces because of disagreements about money. A recent study found that 41 percent of Gen Xers and 29 percent of Baby Boomers attributed their divorce to financial stress.
Sadly, many people do initiate divorce because they are afraid their spouse will financially ruin their life. The reasons are nearly infinite – gambling, poor investment, supporting other friends and family, lack of employment to name a few.
Takeaways if Your Spouse Wants a Divorce
Remember that denial is a natural part of the grieving process. The end of the marriage is a major life disruption and will challenge your sense of self.
Divorce threatens your lifestyle and family unit. It is an event certainly worth grieving.
During this time, lean on your support system and try to determine whether your marriage can be saved. Know that to try, you will have to be open to change and understanding your spouse’s perspective.