Can a Divorce Be Discontinued or Canceled in New York State?

August 5, 2023
Louis Sternberg

Most divorce actions proceed to resolution and, ultimately the legal dissolution of the marriage by way of a Judgment of Divorce. In New York State, as in other jurisdictions, parties seeking divorce may wonder if it’s possible to discontinue or cancel the divorce proceedings once they have been initiated. While divorce is generally seen as a very firm and definitive step towards ending a marriage, there are certain circumstances under which a divorce can be discontinued or canceled.

The Divorce Process in New York State

In New York State, the divorce process begins with one party (the Plaintiff) filing a “Summons with Notice” or a “Summons and Complaint” in the Supreme Court. The other party (the Defendant) is then served with the divorce papers, and they have a specific period to respond. If the Defendant fails to properly respond within the allotted time, the Plaintiff can move forward with seeking a default judgment against the Defendant.

Can a Divorce Be Discontinued? Discontinuing a Divorce in NY.

Yes, under certain circumstances, a divorce can be discontinued in New York State, but it’s essential to understand the conditions under which this can occur. The voluntary discontinuance of the divorce is guided by CPLR § 3271. If both parties mutually decide to reconcile and give their marriage another chance (or simply do not wish to pursue the divorce at this time), they can choose to discontinue the divorce proceedings. This decision can be made at any point during the divorce process, as long as a final judgment of divorce has not been issued by the court.

It’s important to note that depending upon stage of the proceedings, the discontinuance of a divorce may require the agreement and consent of both parties. At certain preliminary phases, the Plaintiff may be permitted to unilaterally discontinue or end the divorce case simply by filing a Notice of Discontinuance. On the other hand, after certain pleadings have been exchanged, a discontinuance may require an agreement by the parties. In such circumstances, if one party wishes to continue with the divorce while the other wants to discontinue, the court will generally proceed with the divorce.

Post-Divorce Reconciliation

If a divorce has been granted by the court and the parties subsequently decide to reconcile, the process of “undoing” the divorce becomes more complex. In New York State, undoing a divorce generally requires remarriage. If the divorced couple wishes to remarry, they would follow the standard procedures for getting married again, including obtaining a new marriage license.

While the commencement of a divorce action is intended to be a definitive legal step in ending a marriage, life is often unpredictable, and circumstances can change. In New York State, a divorce can be discontinued as long as the Judgment of Divorce has not yet been entered. When seeking to discontinue a divorce during the proceedings, it’s important for couples to understand the legal implications and procedures involved, including consideration of what pleadings have been served and the period of time that has elapsed since such service.

However, navigating the complexities of divorce and its potential discontinuance. It’s strongly advised for individuals seeking to litigate (or discontinue) a divorce consult with experienced legal professionals familiar with these procedures.