More than you might expect, spouses who have divorced or separated often rekindle their relationship or resume a path of conduct to resumption of the marital relationship.
In fact, it’s somewhat encouraged under the NC family laws and public policy of North Carolina. Indeed, that’s one reason it takes so long to get a divorce in NC.
There’s no such thing as a “quick divorce” in NC. You can’t even file for divorce until you’ve been legally separated with the intent to remain separated for one year.
There are important consequences to legal reconciliation after separation or a divorce, some of which may be unexpected, unintended, and rather substantial.
Many couples do not understand that this resumption can have legal and economic implications for any effective post-separation agreement(s), court ordered post-separation support and/or court ordered alimony payments.
It’s a good idea to seek legal advice from a knowledgeable Charlotte Divorce lawyer when you determine that you wish to resume the marital relationship with your spouse. Even occasional sexual encounters between separated spouses can affect things.
At Powers Law Firm PA, we understand how resumption of the marital relationship, termed reconciliation in North Carolina, can affect divorce proceedings, alimony payments, and support orders.
There are important economic and legal interests associated with rekindling a healthy relationship with your significant other.Reconciliation
Reconciliation is the resumption of the marital relationship. Specifically, reconciliation is the voluntary renewal of the husband and wife relationship (the NC family laws now also recognize same sex marriages) as shown by the totality of the circumstances.
Under the totality of the circumstances test, courts look at any relevant factors including:
- how the couple holds themselves out to the public
- statements to family and friends referencing their status as married
- incidents of sexual intercourse between the spouses
- filing joint tax returns
Courts may also look at the subjective mutual intent of both spouses to reconcile the marriage if the factors do not clearly lean to one conclusion or the other.Reconciliation – Divorce Consequences
In order to file for an absolute divorce, North Carolina law requires married spouses to live separate and apart for one year. This separation period must be continuous and uninterrupted.
If a couple resumes the marital relationship during this one year period, the amount of the time the couple has been separated becomes moot and the clock restarts for separation purposes.
For example, courts will usually find an interruption in the separation period if the spouses move back in together.
IMPORTANT: The legal effect of reconciliation means that you cannot file for a divorce unless you and your spouse separate again for a continuous and uninterrupted period of one year.Reconciliation – Economic Consequences
Reconciliation can also negate portions of or completely void separation agreements and also change the date at which marital assets are valued when courts divide up the assets for purposes of equitable distribution.
In North Carolina, marital assets are valued at the time the separation takes place. Reconciliation voids any period of time the couple has been separated the assets will only be valued if the couple separate again for the purposes of obtaining a divorce.Reconciliation – Alimony Consequences and Excusing Marital Misconduct
When spouses reconcile, a previous alimony award ordered by the court could have the potential to be terminated should the parties resume marital relations. Additionally, a previous claim for alimony based on the illicit sexual behavior of the supporting spouse could be affected by something called forgiveness.
For example, a past instance of marital misconduct, e.g., adultery, may be forgiven by the other spouse (divorce lawyers in Charlotte call this condonation) simply by the spouse resuming marital relations with the spouse who committed the marital misconduct.
That is, you cannot use that past marital misconduct to seek alimony in a subsequent separation and divorce unless that same spouse engages in the same type misconduct again.
It is important to note that unlike a claim for alimony, post-separation support is not automatically barred simply because of illicit sexual behavior by the dependent spouse. Each case is different.
Additionally, if you reconcile with your spouse and engage in marital misconduct (despite never having done so prior to the previous separation and subsequent reconciliation), then you could have a potential award of alimony barred due to your marital misconduct after reconciliation.It makes good sense to consult with a Divorce Lawyer Charlotte NC
At the Powers Law Firm, we understand the North Carolina laws regarding divorce, separation and reconciliation and protect your economic and legal interests.
The Powers Law Firm, P.A.
704-342-4357 Charlotte Office
803-325-5806 Rock Hill Law Office
*All Family Law, Separation, Divorce and Alimony Legal Consultations are handled by appointment only. That’s true both for our Charlotte NC law offices, Monroe NC law firm location, and those located in Rock Hill SC in York County. There is a consultation fee. We charge hourly rates for all family law matters in both SC and NC.
Attorneys Bill Powers, Megan Powell and Chris Beddow are all licensed attorneys in North Carolina and handle North Carolina family law matters. Attorney Chris Beddow is the only attorney at Powers Law Firm PA licensed in South Carolina. Chris Beddow therefore bears exclusive responsibility for handling all South Carolina family law matters and criminal defense charges in SC.