Reconciliation: It's Not Over 'Til It's Over

In Michigan, a divorce is not final until the judge has signed the judgment of divorce, and there is a built- in mandatory waiting period (six moths if minor children are involved, 60 days if there are no children) between the filing of the complaint and entry of judgment in all divorces. One reason for the delay is to allow the parties to fully explore reconciliation before finalizing a judgment of divorce. Approximately 20% of the divorce cases I file do not result in a final judgment of divorce. Sometimes, when people separate and begin to experience life without their spouse, the financial realities of child support, and other impacts of divorce, they reconsider their decision and decide to give the marriage another chance. When this occurs, one of two things may happen. In some counties here in West Michigan, the judges are open to placing the matter on “administrative closing,” sometimes for two or three months to extend the waiting period and to give the parties a chance to attend counseling and explore whether the marriage can be restored.

In the alternative, the parties may decide to stipulate to complete dismissal of the complaint for divorce. If this is done, in the event the marriage does not work out, a new complaint for divorce must be filed, another filing fee must be paid, and everything starts over again.

If you are considering reconciliation, ask whether you might be able to delay the matter for a few months to allow time to fully explore whether your marriage can be saved. I work closely with a number of professional marriage counselors and therapists to whom I refer people for purposes of exploring reconciliation.