Many people struggle with the decision to file for divorce. They believe their relationship has reached a point that because of extramarital affairs, drug or alcohol addiction, gambling, a lack of willingness to get help for mental health problems, a lack of prioritizing the family or for other reasons, their spouse has left them with no choice but to file for the divorce. However, they continue to hold out hope that their spouse will choose to change the status quo or maybe even, that filing for the divorce will catch their spouse’s attention as a line in the sand and create a desire for their spouse to make significant changes such that the marriage can be reconciled. In other circumstances, perhaps your spouse has filed for the divorce and you understand you have to meet your legal deadlines to protect your interests and rights in the process, but you hold out hope that your spouse will reconsider his or her actions.
When you come for a consultation at Pingel Family Law, we certainly do not have a goal of steering every client down the path of a divorce. In fact, in seeing what doesn’t work in marriages that creates the necessity for divorce for over twenty years, our attorneys have become quite efficient in helping guide clients through steps and strategies that might help their marriage reconcile. Ethically and morally, our attorneys take great pride in being a resource for options to address both, the legal deadlines that you may be facing, as well as helping you evaluate options to work on reconciliation of your marriage. We understand that the possibility of breaking up your family is emotional, complicated and sometimes, necessary and worthwhile to fight for. At Pingel Family Law, we can help you evaluate this decision and provide skilled guidance and counsel about both, your legal rights and responsibilities, as well as the options to work toward reconciliation of your marriage if that is important to you.
What happens if we want to reconcile or try to work on things during the divorce process?
First, couples who seek marriage counseling (or relationship counseling for unmarried couples) prior to a divorce being filed are intelligent and if children are involved, clearly articulate making their children a priority in the situation. Many couples who consider divorcing have simply arrived at that point due to a lack of communication or a break down in agreed priority setting. At best, the couple may be able to solve and work through the problems that brought them to the point of the counseling or therapy. At worst, if the counseling doesn’t “work” and the couple still wishes to proceed with ending their marriage or relationship, the couple will feel more confident and empowered in their decision to move forward with resolving their relationship, brings closure for the relationship and the couple will hopefully be better capable of communicating with one another including about issues to resolve their relationship and to continue co-parenting their children. Of course, some relationship circumstances are not amenable to relationship counseling: situations such as domestic violence, child abuse, an yielding intention to pursue a drug or alcohol addiction, but if you want to pursue efforts at reconciliation, we can help you work through an evaluate your options.
What happens to the case if you and your spouse want to reconcile during the case?
Your attorney can certainly discuss your options and give you legal guidance about what would be best for your individual situation. If there are temporary orders for child support, child custody or maintenance, it is generally best to enter into an agreement for the orders to be set aside (so that child support does not accrue during the period you and your spouse or partner begin cohabitating with one another again). You may wonder, rather than dismissing the temporary orders in a case, why you shouldn’t just dismiss the entire case. Again, this is a personal decision for your situation that you should make in careful consultation with your lawyer, however, there are often many benefits to keeping the case on file for a period of time while you and your partner try to work through a reconciliation process. You cannot know if the problems that led to this point are resolved after a day or a week or even a month.
How do you Cancel a Divorce?
When you decide with your divorce attorney that the time is right to dismiss or cancel the divorce, there is a document that you can work with your divorce attorney to file with the court. Of course, if both parties have pleadings on file, the dismissal of the case has to be a joint/mutual filing or it will not be effective.
If I want to work on reconciliation rather than pursuing divorce what steps should I take?
Continually work to stay connected and in communication with your spouse or partner. Of course, this advice does not apply if there is a protective order in place or other circumstances that would prevent communication. If you see possible hope that reconciliation might be possible, maintain good communication. Counseling is an option often worth considering. If you are working toward a reconciliation, you need to communicate. Remember back to when you and your partner fell in love. It started with frequent communication and interaction. Use email, text messages and calls to stay in touch. Show enthusiasm for activities your partner is interested in. Show compassion and empathy when he or she is having hard times. Part of the communication that is necessary to heal and move forward is meaningful discussions about what went wrong in the relationship. Often, these discussions are not effective until you and your spouse have re-built a reasonable rapport with one another. Again, if discussing the problems of the relationship proves to be a difficult or emotional impediment to making reasonable progress, counseling or therapy to work through some of those issues may be necessary.
If you and your spouse begin trying to work through issues, you need to move forward cautiously and gradually. There is obviously a lot of hard or difficult feelings that have built up and it’s important that you and your partner begin to rebuild trust carefully with one another. Do not allow yourself to get carried away in emotions or you may experience a sudden, disappointing and hurtful “crash” in your expectations.
Should I file for a legal separation?
Filing for a legal separation (or amending your divorce petition to ask for a legal separation instead) is an option. You should discuss this in great detail with your family law attorney to make an informed decision as to whether this option is right for you. If you are uncertain as to whether a divorce is actually necessary, one option is to proceed with the legal separation. In a legal separation, you and your spouse will proceed with the case in a similar fashion as a divorce, with dividing assets and debts, determining family support obligations and making a plan for child custody and parenting time. However, rather than proceed with getting the marriage dissolved, the marriage is not concluded and thus, if you and your spouse decide that you want to remain married, the determinations from the legal separation can be set aside. On the other hand, if you and your spouse later decide that you wish to have your marriage dissolved, you can simply convert the Judgment of legal Separation to a Judgment for Divorce.
Can I suspend the divorce proceedings for a bit of time while I weigh my options?
Yes, both Kansas and Missouri courts will give you an option to delay your case for a period of time. Generally the period of time that the court permits the delay is based upon the discretion of the judge involved. In many courts it will be between three (3) and six (6) months, but some judges have allowed a case to remain pending for a year or longer. This gives you and your spouse the opportunity to work through reconciliation without being required to start the process over if you decide that things cannot be worked through a couple of months from now. Generally, a delay in the divorce proceedings is something that both spouses have to agree to and will need to communicate to their respective attorneys so that the family law attorneys involved can collaborate on a delay in your divorce proceedings.
How Do You Balance the Options of Reconciliation and Divorce?
You should carefully weigh these options with your trusted family, friends and advisors. Often the input and guidance from the professionals involved in your situation are invaluable. This team includes such people as your divorce attorney, your therapist if involved and possibly your pastor or religious or spiritual advisor. Often, you will be focused on making emotional decisions, at a time such as this, whereas the trusted people guiding you can help provide valuable context and considerations to help you weigh the risks and benefits of the course of action you are considering. If you are considering whether filing for divorce or reconciling is the right option for your family, call Pingel Family Law today. Our experienced and knowledgeable attorneys will be able to help give you the advice and guidance you need at this difficult time as you make these life-changing decisions. Call (816) 208-8130 to get your consultation scheduled today.
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