What Happens When I Get Back Together With My Former Spouse in North Carolina?

Romance is not always a straightforward process. Residents of Charlotte are no stranger to “on-and-off” relationships in which separation and reconciliation may occur multiple times. What are the legal implications of reconciliation? What happens when you start living with your former spouse again? How does this impact things like alimony and child support? These are all important questions that you should be asking yourself before you make the decision to reconcile with your former spouse.

When it comes to reconciliation in North Carolina, one thing is for sure: It is hardly a simple procedure. Things can get complicated very quickly, not just in terms of your emotions and family life, but also in a legal context. This is why it is always a good plan to hire an experienced family law attorney in Charlotte who can help you navigate this process with ease. When you understand the legal implications of reconciling with your former spouse, you can move forward with a sense of confidence.

Understanding the Definition of Separation

Before we get into the implications of reconciliation, it is important to understand the exact definition of “separation” under North Carolina state law. In order for spouses to become legally separated, they need to file for divorce and wait one year before moving on to the next stage. This waiting period is meant to give spouses the chance to “think things through” and make sure they really want to go through with the divorce.

This one-year period also gives spouses the chance to reconcile freely and without legal consequences. In fact, both spouses need to live in separate homes during this one-year period. You cannot simply sleep in separate bedrooms within the same home. Arguably, as soon as you sleep together in the same home that one-year waiting period restarts. According to judges at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse, you need to show that you are serious about separation by staying apart during this entire year.

According to these guidelines, reconciliation is actually much easier if you do it before that one year period runs its course. Reconcile before the divorce actually takes place, and you will not have to worry about any of the legal consequences, such as alimony and child support. Your marriage will basically go back to the way it was before. If you choose to separate once again in the future, that one-year waiting period simply restarts.

What Constitutes Reconciliation?

In North Carolina, reconciliation is defined in somewhat vague terms. Also known as “voluntary resumption of spousal relations,” this involves you getting back together with your former spouse in a meaningful way. You do not need to actually remarry in order to “resume spousal relations” in the eyes of the law. On the other end of the spectrum, a few isolated incidents of sexual intercourse may not constitute reconciliation, either.

Here is what you must do in order to reconcile:

  • Move back into the same residence with your spouse
  • Do not maintain a separate residence while living in the same residence as your spouse
  • Accept and undertake the responsibilities associated with a married relationship. These include chores, caring for children, and financial obligations
  • Engage in consistent intimate activities with your spouse over an extended period of time (not just isolated sexual encounters)
  • Publicly display signs of affection and unity with your spouse. Make it known that you are in a relationship
  • Inform family and friends that you and your spouse are in the process of reconciliation and are no longer pursuing a divorce

Note that you do not necessarily need to engage in all of these activities for a judge at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse to determine you have reconciled. These are just some of the factors that will be taken into account.

The Legal Implications of Reconciliation

Generally speaking, the state of North Carolina actively encourages reconciliation. This is part of the reason why couples must wait one year before obtaining a divorce. That being said, there are some legal implications of reconciliation that you should probably take into account.

  • Your separation agreement may become wholly or partially null and void. This means that if you separate again in the future, you will need to create a new separation agreement and go through the same legal process once again
  • The date of separation changes if you separate again. This means that assets are calculated from a different start date. If you win the lottery or your stocks skyrocket in value, your spouse may receive more assets through equitable distribution
  • It affects alimony. Previous alimony awards may be terminated when you reconcile. In addition, extra-marital affairs are often considered “forgiven” by the spouse seeking this alimony once you reconcile. For this reason, alimony claims based on illicit sexual acts may be affected.
Getting Legal Help

If you want to learn more about your legal options as you consider reconciliation, it is best to reach out to an attorney with a great deal of experience in family law matters. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at 704-370-2828 or contact us online here.