In this article, we will explain what happens if the parties to an Illinois divorce reconcile and decide to call off the divorce. We explain dismissal of divorce proceedings, suspension of the divorce via the court’s reconciliation calendar, and remarriage after the divorce is final.
A divorce is initiated by filing a petition for dissolution of marriage. This is only the beginning of the divorce process, which is concluded with a final order dissolving the marriage. Until this final order is entered, the parties remain legally married. So what happens if one or both of the parties want to call off the divorce between the time that the petition is filed and the final order of dissolution is entered?
The person who filed the divorce petition is known as the petitioner. Once the petition is filed, the other party, known as the respondent, must file a response to the petition, which is called an answer. If the petitioner wants to call off the divorce after the petition has been filed, but before the respondent has filed his or her answer, the petitioner can do so unilaterally by requesting that the case be dismissed. However, if the respondent has already filed his or her answer, dismissal of the divorce case must be accomplished by mutual agreement of the parties.
An alternative to dismissing the case outright is to place the case on the court’s reconciliation calendar. Placing the case on the court’s reconciliation calendar suspends the case without immediately dismissing it. If the parties are successful in repairing their relationship, the case can later be dismissed. If the parties are unsuccessful, the case can be reactivated.
This is preferable to outright dismissal if the parties are unsure whether reconciliation will be successful, because if the case is dismissed and the parties later again wish to divorce, the case will have to start from the beginning. This means that the parties will have to pay court costs and legal fees for the same stages of the process that had previously been accomplished in the first case. It also means that the parties will have to go through a second 6 month period of separation prior to the second divorce case unless both parties decide to waive this waiting period.
If the parties to a divorce reconcile and remarry after the final order for marital dissolution is entered, the terms of the order are not automatically void. If the parties remarry one another the property that each spouse received in the divorce will remain his or her own even if it was marital property before the divorce. Any spousal maintenance payments or child support ordered in the dissolution order will cease upon the parties’ remarriage to one another. However, if the parties divorce a second time, the length of the second marriage, as opposed to the first, will be used to determine maintenance duration in the second divorce.
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