By Jedidiah McKeehan
When someone files for divorce, it is not a guarantee that their case will end in them getting divorced. There is at least some chance that the parties will end up working out their differences and staying married to each other.
If I am representing someone in a divorce and they tell me that they and their spouse are getting back together, that does not make me sad, that makes me happy! As I have said many times, “I am not pro-divorce, I am pro-being happy.”
When someone going through a divorce tells me that they are going to try to work it out with their spouse, they will say, “what do we do with the divorce case?”
There are a few options. They can outright dismiss their divorce case, they can do nothing and just let the case sit for a while, or they can submit to the court an order of reconciliation, which is what I recommend that individuals do.
Under Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-4-126, the parties can enter a written stipulation that they desire to attempt a reconciliation and that the divorce proceedings should be suspended. Further, if the parties resume living together during a reconciliation, by doing so, they are not condoning prior misconduct of the other person.
Why I prefer the reconciliation is that it does not put you back to square 1 on getting divorced if you all do not end up working it out. I had one client whose spouse had left him and lived in Texas for two years. After we filed for divorce he called me and said they were going to work it out and she was going to come back and live with him. Great!
Well, one week after she moved back in with him, he called me back and told me, “That went terribly, she is already back in Texas.” Thankfully, we had done an order of reconciliation instead of dismissing his divorce case, so we did not have to re-file for divorce.
You just never know. So, what I recommend to people is that while they are trying to work things out with their spouse, I recommend that they submit an order of reconciliation with the court and not just dismiss their divorce case in case things you and your spouse are not able to patch things up.
Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties. He works in many areas, including criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, probate, and estate planning. Visit attorney-knoxville.com for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.