How to Withdraw a Divorce Petition

by Brian Richards

Any time before a judge issues a final divorce decree, you may petition the court to withdraw your divorce request by filing a motion to dismiss without prejudice. Each jurisdiction has its own process for filing such a motion, and the court in your case may have a form that needs to be filled out, or it may simply require that you submit a letter expressing your desire to withdraw your divorce petition. Depending on how your spouse responded to the initial divorce petition, he may also need to approve the withdrawal.

Verify that your spouse did not respond to your divorce petition (any responses would have been mailed to you). If he has filed no documents other than a notice of appearance, you may unilaterally withdraw the divorce petition. However, if he filed an answer or a counterclaim, the divorce will continue on his petition unless he also withdraws by following the same procedure.

Contact the clerk of the family court that is processing your divorce to find out if there is a form that must be submitted to request withdrawal of petitions. Obtain the form if one is needed. If no form is required, ask if there is a particular format you should use in your letter requesting a withdrawal of the petition.

Fill out the form, or draft your motion-to-dismiss letter, which should include your name, your spouse's name and the case number assigned to your divorce. You do not need to indicate why you are withdrawing your divorce petition. Sign and date the form or the letter.

File the motion to dismiss with the court. Most jurisdictions do not charge fees when such motions are filed, but you won't be able to recover the fees you paid for your initial divorce filing. If your spouse filed an answer or a counterclaim, he must also submit a motion to dismiss.


  • Consult an attorney before withdrawing your divorce petition to ensure that doing so is in your best interest legally. If you want to put the proceedings on hold while you wait to see if things work out, file a notice of abatement instead. The filing process is the same, but your request should specify that you merely want to put the process on hold temporarily.


  • Courts do not look favorably on individuals who repeatedly file for divorce and then withdraw their petitions. Courts understand that couples may reconcile, but feuding spouses shouldn't abuse the process or waste the court's time. Before filing for divorce or withdrawing a divorce petition, make sure that you're not acting in haste or in anger.

About the Author

Brian Richards is an attorney whose work has appeared in law and philosophy journals and online in legal blogs and article repositories. He has been a writer since 2008. He holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from University of California, San Diego and a Juris Doctor from Lewis and Clark School of Law.

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