Can a spouse successfully prevent a court from granting a divorce?

Posted By Adam Denton, On July 17, 2016

If an individual wants to get a divorce, can his or her spouse prevent it from happening? Ultimately, the answer to that question is it depends. As a matter of public policy, the law doesn’t want to interpreted in a manner that would keep someone in a marriage against his or her will. However, there are some defenses that may be used to stop a fault divorce.

Objecting to the Divorce Actually Justifies It

A divorce may be labeled as either fault or no-fault. A no-fault divorce generally takes place under the theory that there are irreconcilable differences between the two. Although it may seem odd at first, it makes sense that failing to agree as to whether or not a marriage should end is a difference that cannot be reconciled. If a divorce is classified as a fault case, it means that one spouse has abused the other, abandoned the other or has committed adultery.

Defenses Against a Fault Defense

While the odds of stopping a divorce for fault may be slim, there are reasons why a judge would refuse to allow the case to proceed. Let’s say that a wife is suing for divorce claiming that her husband was cheating on her. The husband may be able to claim that he was duped into committing the act.

This is referred to as connivance and means in this case that the wife connived her husband into committing the act. Of course, a husband could also be guilty of this if he connived his wife into adultery or some other act that lead to a request for divorce.

Another possible defense is to claim that a spouse condoned a specific type of behavior. In other words, a husband may have allowed his wife to leave for long periods at a time or wife may have allowed her husband to engage in relationships with other women.

Finally, collusion could be a defense against a divorce ultimately being granted. If a state requires a separation period before a no-fault divorce, the couple may claim that the divorce occurred because of the fault of one party or the other even if nothing happened. However, either spouse may use this as a defense if either decides to not follow through with the divorce.

A Divorce May Be Postponed

In a divorce proceeding, each side must be served with the proper paperwork that then must be filed with the court. It may be possible for both parties to agree to put their divorce on hold or withdraw their petition before the other party responds. In some cases, a judge may have discretion as to whether or not a divorce should proceed if both parties agree to make their marriage work after filing their papers.

Often, a couple will try to make their relationship work for the sake of their children. It is usually in a child’s best interest to have both parents in his or her life, which means that both parents will still have to see and talk to each other. Therefore, it may be easier to stay together if it can be done.

Can a divorce be prevented? While possible, it is unlikely unless both parties agree to that happening. In many cases, it is better to recognize that the relationship is over and try to preserve whatever may be left of it for that individual’s sake as well as the sake of any children that the couple may have had. If you don’t have a divorce lawyer currently hired, consider speaking to our NYC divorce attorneys today.