By Jennifer M. Paine
If you are thinking about getting back together with your wife and your divorce has already been filed, then there are basic questions you need to address.
These divorce questions to ask are divided into three separate articles:
1. Does the court allow a “cooling off” period?
Most judges, as well as attorneys, do not want to see a couple divorced if there are reasonable alternatives. This is one of the reasons most jurisdictions have “cooling off” periods between the date of filing for divorce and the date the divorce can be granted.
These periods may be as short as 30 days and as long as one year, or more, depending on where your case is filed.
Consider whether you can use that period to work on reconciliation so that, if your efforts are unsuccessful, you can continue with the divorce without having to re-file your lawsuit.
2. How far along in the case are you?
It is normal for spouses to get scared when a divorce is newly filed – things are on a train and you may not be able to stop them – or to get fatigued when a divorce has been pending for a long time.
When things seem like they will never end, sometimes it is easier to just “give in” or to accept the status quo for an unknown future. In either scenario, have a conference with your spouse and your lawyer to discuss options for suspending the case while you explore reconciliation.
Also, consult with your attorney separately about the reasons you may be cautious about proceeding so that you can weed out fatigue and/or fear of the unknown from your true feelings.
3. Do your children (or other family) know?
Talk about how you will discuss these reconciliation efforts with your children and/or other family members. They are, at some level, involved in your case, and they will have questions for you. You and your wife should be a united front when answering those questions.
For children, be cautious about how you describe this time to them so that you do not set them up for an unreasonable expectation that mom and dad are getting back together for good.
4. How long should you try this?
Establish a timeline for working on reconciliation and stick to it. Otherwise, you could find yourself maintaining a bad status quo and, if you are residing in separate households, paying double living expenses.
Each day should bring you closer together if reconciliation is to work. A month may be appropriate – longer than a month, absent compelling circumstances, is probably not.
5. How will we know whether reconciliation is working?
Similarly, write down your goals for this period of time, and monitor whether you achieve them. As examples:
Will a counselor be involved? Will we reside together? What issues will we work on? How often will we talk about these issues? What needs to happen for both spouses to know that neither is “faking” the reconciliation or acting with an ulterior purpose?
Cordell & Cordell:
Jennifer M. Paine is a Michigan Divorce Lawyer with Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in Michigan, and has been admitted pro hac vice in Illinois, Ohio, and the United States Court of Federal Claims.
Ms. Paine received her Bachelor of Arts in English and Mathematics from Albion College and graduated Summa Cum Laude. She received her Juris Doctorate from MSU College of Law and graduated Summa Cum Laude.