Upset couple standing on opposite sides of the wall and holding hands

When clients come to me in the beginning, they often do not know the state of their marriage. On a number of occasions, this has led to both parties signing an executed divorce agreement and, after I’ve filed it, call me to withdraw the papers and to stop the action before the judge signs it. 

There’s nothing new about people changing their minds at the last minute. In fact, one of the perennial questions I field is something to the effect of, “How often do you see clients who choose to stay together?” I think this is an important topic because sometimes people really want to try to see if — maybe — they could stay together. The internal idealist in some holds out hope despite all odds; for others, it’s their inner pragmatist.  

•Many times, the spouse who initiated the divorce gets cold feet. Instead of serving papers, they opt to work on the marriage. 

•Sometimes the reconciliation happens after a frank assessment of the marital assets reveals that one (or neither) party would be in a good position after divorce and the parties are driven by practicality to stay together. 

•The couple might really pride themselves on being good parents and doing the best they can for their children. They think that being divorced would be terrible for the kids, so they just “stick it out.”

•Some people identify with the saying, “Better the enemy you know than the enemy you don’t know.” Home life might not be ideal, but they’ve carved out semi-independent lives under the marriage that make staying together less stressful than a divorce.  

•Sometimes people get intimidated by the dating scene and become afraid that they’ll never find somebody new. 

Every now and again, there’s a situation where parties are able to work through these situations and actually end up with a better marriage. More often than that, however, I end up getting a call in two or three years to finalize the divorce we previously discussed. I think it’s a healthy thing to do, because divorce is a journey for each person. When they come back the second time, they are unequivocally one thousand percent sure they want to proceed, and in that respect, they are completely at peace with it. 

Cheryl Stein, Esq.
The Law and Mediation Offices of Cheryl Stein
745 Fifth Avenue, Suite 500
New York, NY 10151
Phone: (646) 884-2324