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Divorce: When is the “Point of No Return”?

Most people who have chosen to get divorced feel confident about their decision by the time I speak with them. (In fact, in my experience, usually people are looking for ways to get the divorce finalized as quickly as possible, which can become frustrating as many states have a waiting period before married couples may divorce. In Colorado, the waiting period is a minimum of 91 days.)

However, I have experienced several people calling off divorces, and for a variety of reasons.

In short, there is really no “point of no return” when it comes to the divorce process. It can always be called off; and even if the couple fully divorces and separates all debts and assets, they can still remarry. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton did it, and so can anyone—though admittedly, that is an unusual situation.

Calling Off the Divorce

Let’s look at some hypothetical situations where a divorcing couple may choose to stay together. Some of these situations I have actually experienced in my career as a divorce attorney.

Older Couples, Retirement and Social Security

Suppose a couple is unmarried and entering or already in their retirement years. If they were under the impression that getting married would not affect the amount of social security they would receive in their retirement—or the amount they would receive based on a previous marriage—they might go ahead and marry.

However, social security is affected by marital status (when you remarry, you cannot collect social security benefits based on your former spouse. Read more HERE). So whether one of the partners was counting on social security income based on their former spouse, or they simply discovered that their benefits would alter unexpectedly based on the new marriage, they may choose to get divorced. (They may also decide to annul their marriage, e.g., have it declared invalid.)

In these cases, couples will typically choose to live together but not formalize their partnership by marriage—or, if they have already married, they may get divorced/annulled.

Financial and Medical Reasons

Hypothetically, it may make sense for certain couples to stay married for financial or tax reasons, especially if there are children involved. They can continue to live together and just be separated.

This may especially be the case when medical issues are involved. Say a couple is in the process of divorcing and one partner suddenly comes down with a grave illness or is in a terrible accident, but it’s the other partner whose job provides the best health insurance. In this case, the couple may choose to stay together legally in order to leverage the health insurance benefit. This happens fairly regularly.

Matters of the Heart

I’ve heard of people reconciling. In fact, I’ve even heard of couples filing for divorce, calling it off after mediation, then filing for divorce again… then calling it off, again.

And yes, people really do get fully divorced and then decide to get remarried. It may simply be that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence: the couple may expect that life will be better without their “other half” until it’s all said and done… when they realize that, actually, life was pretty good with their former spouse and they think they can work it out.

In sum, there really isn’t a “point of no return” when it comes to the divorce process. You can always call it off. However, the consequences of this back and forth will likely cause emotional distress and, of course, the cost of legal counsel.

Wherever you are in your divorce process, we can help. Call us at 303-449-1873 to set up a free consultation.