How To Stop a Divorce When Your Are Not Ready To End Your Marriage

Divorce has become ubiquitous in the twenty-first century, so much so that chances are you may know many divorced people.

But despite being common, divorce is neither ideal nor desirable when you find yourself on the brink of it. It’s painful and confusing, and if children, property, and pets are involved, divorce can become a real logistical nightmare. 

But even if it seems like divorce is inevitable for you and your spouse, it doesn’t have to be. With some hard work from both parties, it’s possible to redirect the situation and find renewed happiness.

So what should you do if your marriage is in trouble? What steps can you take? It won’t be easy, but it’s possible to turn things around. 

Keep reading to find out how to stop a divorce. 

Tips to Save Your Marriage Before the Papers Are Filed

Do you think your marriage is worth saving? Do you feel like it’s possible to avoid divorce? If so, there are plenty of things you can do to revive your relationship. The following plan of action is an excellent place to start. 

Acknowledge Your Partner’s Feelings to Them

The first thing you should do is acknowledge that your partner wants a divorce

Sure, learning that they want to end the marriage is scary, and it’s normal to panic when you hear these words.

But just because your spouse says they want a divorce, it doesn’t mean that things can’t be turned around. It may sound counterintuitive, but to get your marriage back on track, you have to accept that your partner is ready to call it quits.


Because accepting the other person’s feelings (without trying to negotiate or change them) is critical if you want to move forward. In other words, validate your spouse.

Acknowledge that you understand why they feel this way and how you (both of you) got to this point. It’s not easy to do, but recognizing that things haven’t been great-and your part in it-is pretty powerful.  

Take Divorce out of Your Vocabulary and Talk to Your Spouse

Getting married is a choice two people make together, and so is getting divorced. When you recognize your agency in these life decisions, you realize that the power to stop a divorce lies within you.

So eliminate this word from your conversations altogether, and don’t let it be part of your consciousness. 

Not talking about divorce certainly doesn’t mean that negative feelings will disappear, because they won’t. You’ll still feel anger, frustration, and hurt. But if you take divorce off the table as a way to solve your problems, you’ll be forced to work through issues in other ways.

It may get rough, but you can stop divorce one hundred percent of the time if you’re not contemplating it. 

Remember Why You Got Married

“For better or for worse.” Chances are, your wedding vows included some iteration of this phrase. In other words, you promised to be there for the other person, through the good times and the bad.

You promised to keep their best interests at the forefront and love them always. 

It’s easy to be there for your spouse in happy times, but it becomes more challenging when things aren’t good. So when you hit a rough patch, it’s helpful to remember why you got married in the first place.

You certainly weren’t planning to get divorced someday. 

Instead, you got married to have a partner for life. Keeping this fact in mind can help you turn toward one another when things are less than ideal. It’s much easier to weather the storm when you’re united. 

Work on Your Relationship and Maybe Feelings Can Change

Maintaining a thriving partnership among the daily grind of work, kids, family, and friends is easier said than done. Many couples end up putting their marital issues on the back burner, which can lead to a feeling of ambivalence.

After all, who wants to deal with trust issues or a stalled relationship when you’ve got a million other things to take care of?

Successful marriages take work-and lots of it. You may be surprised that negative feelings can change, simply by prioritizing your marriage. Some easy things you can do to work on your relationship today include:

  • Set aside one-on-one time
  • Be a better listener
  • Go to bed at the same time
  • Do a novel activity together
  • Exercise together
  • Learn the other person’s love languages

Seek Counseling

One of the most effective tools at preventing divorce is seeking the help of a marriage counselor or therapist (the same is true even if your marriage is thriving, as therapy can help keep it that way!). 

There are many reasons to get a therapist, and one of the most common is difficulty communicating effectively. Whether you have problems communicating because of anger, trust issues, or fear, having a neutral third party can help break down those barriers.

Another reason to seek professional help is to reap the benefits of the years of training and experience a marriage counselor brings to the table. They can provide resources and tips for working through your problems, and offer you a safe space to do so.  

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Rely on Your Support System

It’s easy to fall into a downward spiral of marriage negativity. If you notice yourself consumed by marital problems, turning to your support system for help is an excellent idea.

Talk with a friend, family member, or a coworker you trust – anyone you feel comfortable confiding in.

What’s critical is to avoid trash-talking your spouse with your support people. Instead, seek advice and open up about your feelings constructively.

Sometimes, talking about your problems with a third party can help you see things in a different light. You may also get valuable insight, especially if you reach out to someone in a long-lasting, loving marriage.

How to Stop a Divorce After the Papers Have Been Filed in 4 Steps

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you may find yourself in the middle of divorce proceedings. But what if this process makes you realize that you’re actually not ready to give up on your marriage? How do you stop a divorce once the papers have been filed? 

Unfortunately, if you’re not the spouse who has filed for divorce, there’s no way to stop things. But if you’re the partner who filed for divorce, it’s usually possible to stop the process, especially if the proceedings are in the early stages.

You need to let the court know that you are voluntarily withdrawing the case and have no desire to proceed further. 

Here's how. 

Go Get the Proper Form from the Courts Where You Filed

To stop the divorce, you’ll need to go to the courthouse where the divorce petition was originally filed and ask for the correct form. The court clerk will help you with this step. 

Complete the Required Court Documents

Fill out the form. The form length will vary from state to state, but in most places, it’s a short one-page sheet stating that you are voluntarily withdrawing the case. No explanation is required as to why you want to dismiss your case. 

File the Required Form with the Courts

Take your completed form back to the courthouse and file it with the clerk. You will receive a copy for your records and one to serve your spouse. 

Serve Your Spouse the New Documents to Stop the Divorce

Some states require you to serve your spouse, while others allow the courts to complete this step for you (via mail). You may also be asked to mail the document by certified mail. Whatever the process is, make sure you understand what’s required before leaving the courthouse. 

What Should You Do When You Can’t Stop a Divorce?

Unfortunately, avoiding divorce is not always possible. You might find yourself facing an unwanted divorce and may be unsure about how to handle it. Here are some tips for dealing with the situation. 

  • Keep your anxiety in check. Whether you need therapy, exercise, or even medication, getting your anxiety under control is critical. Otherwise, you may find yourself engaging in behaviors that are damaging to the relationship, like lashing out or begging your partner to stay. 
  • Focus on yourself. Think of the divorce as an opportunity to start fresh and focus on yourself. Engage in activities that make you happy so that you can begin to move on. Spend time with friends and loved ones. Now could also be a great time to go back to the gym or get more involved at work. 
  • Keep communication cordial. You probably feel like lashing out, but that won’t make things better. Instead, maintain polite, to-the-point communication and avoid any of the behaviors that led to the split. This point is especially critical if you have children, as you want to keep things civil for their sake. 


Let’s wrap things up with some frequently asked questions about halting a divorce. 

  • Can I Stop My Spouse From Divorcing Me?
    If you don’t want a divorce, it’s normal to wonder if you can stop your spouse from doing it. The answer depends on whether your partner has already filed the papers. If they’ve yet to do so, you can still prevent the divorce from going forward. Now’s the time to demonstrate to your spouse that you’re committed to improving the marriage. It’s vital to reach an understanding (or a commitment to working together) before lawyers or courts get involved. The first section of this guide has some fantastic tips for getting your relationship back on track. However, if your partner has gone ahead with filing, it’s essentially impossible to stop the process of your own accord. No state will force someone to stay married solely because their partner doesn’t want the marriage to end. If your spouse wants a divorce, they’ll get one. What you can argue are the grounds for divorce, property distribution, and custody.
  • How Do I Survive a Divorce I Don’t Want?
    Unfortunately, there’s no magic solution for surviving a divorce you don’t want. The experience will likely be painful and unpleasant, and there’s no timeline for how long these feelings will last. However, there are some things you can do to get through it.
    • Tap into your support system. Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of going through things alone; now’s the time to lean on those you’re close to. Chances are you know at least a few people who’ve gone through a divorce. Talking with others who’ve been in the same situation can be massively supportive (though keep the next point in mind).
    • Surround yourself with positivity. It’s super easy to hang around other divorcees and only talk about negative feelings. But wallowing in self-pity won’t make things better; it will only prolong your suffering. Instead, surround yourself with positive people who are committed to moving forward. You may just find that that positivity is contagious.
    • Admit your faults. It’s hard to admit our failings, but it’s helpful to do so in the wake of a divorce. Otherwise, you may be prone to making the same mistakes in future relationships.
    • Don’t try to punish your ex. Plenty of people want to make their ex suffer for wanting out, and they do so in all kinds of unpleasant ways. Behaviors like bad-mouthing the other person to your kids, whining, and gossiping are all common, but they should be avoided. Ultimately, these things help no one. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but no matter the reason for your spouse’s exit, you don’t get to punish them.
  • When Is It Too Late to Stop a Divorce?
    If you’re not the filing spouse, and the clerk has filed the papers at your local courthouse, it’s too late to stop the process. But if you’re the person who initiated the proceedings, you can usually stop them until about thirty days after the judge signed the divorce decree (though you may lose the filing fee).