Unfortunately, there is an axiom in divorce law: It takes two people to make a marriage, and one person to make a divorce.
If you want to remain married, you need to consider what can be done to keep your spouse’s mind open to the idea of reconciling. In order to work on a possible reconciliation, you and your spouse must obtain the appropriate counseling. This can be individually, jointly, or both. If your spouse is initially reluctant to consider therapy, you should consider therapy for yourself. Even if therapy or counseling doesn’t lead to a successful reconciliation, it will still be useful for you to have a therapist to help you through this very difficult time.
From a legal point of view, there is nothing you can do to prevent a divorce if your spouse wants one. This is because marriage is viewed by the law in many ways as a partnership contract. If you and I agree to be partners in business, and then I later decide that I don’t want to be partners with you anymore, you can’t force me to continue to remain your partner for business purposes. If there’s a written partnership agreement, it spells out how the assets and obligations of the partnership will be divided upon the dissolution. If there’s no partnership contract, then the prevailing law determines how the assets and obligations will be divided and distributed at the time the partnership ends.
For the most part, the same applies to marriages. Despite the fact that you agreed to be married to each other forever, your spouse has now broken that agreement and determined that he/she no longer wants to be your partner. Therefore, if you have an enforceable agreement for the division of your assets and obligations (eg. a Pre-Marital Agreement), the court will divide the assets and obligations pursuant to the written agreement. If there isn’t an enforceable agreement in place, the court will divide them pursuant to the current law.
Mark P. Gross is a divorce attorney and a founding partner in the Sherman Oaks-based firm of Brot & Gross. He appears in all of the family-law branch courts of Los Angeles County and Ventura County.