Lamar Odom made big news when he collapsed at a brothel in Nevada (see LBN’s October 15 report.) After he regained consciousness, he was in contact with his estranged wife, Khloe Kardashian. On Wednesday, the couple filed papers in court to cancel their divorce proceeding. Stepping back from a divorce happens, but not often. Divorce and mediation lawyer Kelly Chang Rickert explains how it all works in this report.
Rickert says that she has had clients cancel a divorce about ten times during her career. The process is not difficult. All that is required under California law is the filing of a request for dismissal. A divorce is like any other civil case, Rickert explains. “If you sue somebody, and you don’t feel like suing them anymore, you can just dismiss the case.”
And dismissal does not depend on whether the judge agrees with the dismissal. Rickert explains that the judge usually has to agree because the parties have made the request. “The judge isn’t going to push the divorce,” especially since the California legislature supports the idea of marriage. A judge would never deny a request for dismissal.
On the other hand, if the reconciliation falls apart and the couple decide to proceed with getting divorced, they have to start over. Rickert points out that the divorce that was filed has been dismissed. It no longer exists. In order for the parties to proceed with a divorce at that point, one of them would have to file a new divorce action.
Rickert says that couples sometimes don’t dismiss a divorce because they would have to relitigate the date of separation. Rickert explains that California law attaches great importance to that date. When a couple separates, that date establishes a dividing line. After that date, any property a party acquires and any debts that party incurs belong only to that party. In a community property state like California, this is an important matter. If a couple dismisses a pending divorce, the date of separation goes away. If they want to pursue the divorce again later, a new separation date will be established.
Kelly Chang Rickert (formerly Kelly Yi-Yi Chang) is the founder of the Law Offices of Kelly Chang, A Professional Law Corporation, a firm dedicated exclusively to Family Law. She has been certified by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization as a Family Law Specialist. She is frequently quoted in the media, and is a legal expert for CNN News, KTLA, NBC, Style Network, TV Guide and MTV on Mel Gibson, Tiger Woods, Britney Spears, Christie Brinkley, Madonna, Charlie Sheen, and the Kardashians divorce and custody cases. She practices in Los Angeles. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of Sequence Media Group.