By: Stephen J. Plog
Having practiced family law in Colorado for over 20 years, I’ve seen many situations in which one party or the other in a divorce case has, or both have, changed their mind about an aspect of the divorce case, including whether to proceed with the case at all. In a divorce case, until something is put into writing and signed off on by the presiding judge as an order of the court, there are opportunities to have a change in tune, or of heart, in terms of how to proceed. However, it should be noted that the consequences of changing one’s mind differ depending on the decision sought to be undone. To phrase it differently, while opportunity exists to entertain various changes in mind along the path of your divorce, there are some decisions you may not be able to undo, such as changing your mind regarding the property settlement aspects of a properly executed and adopted separation agreement.
One of the more common changes in mind a person going through a divorce might have ties into actually following through with the case. Over the years, I have seen more instances than I can remember in which one spouse decides they are ready to file. The divorce case gets filed and then that person changes their mind. Sometimes this happens prior to the other party being served with the divorce petition and summons. In those instances, the case can simply be voluntarily withdrawn or dismissed, pursuant to Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 41, without even needing to notify the other party. If the other party is served, that’s a different story. In those instances, for the divorce case to be dismissed, both parties must agree that the case should be dismissed and must file a stipulation with the court reflecting such a conclusion. If the second, served spouse wishes to proceed, the case will continue despite the first party changing his or her mind. I have seen many cases mutually dismissed, with the parties wishing to attempt reconciliation and perhaps realizing that they jumped the proverbial gun on proceeding down the divorce path. Continue reading