What Legal Steps can I Take to Get Back Together With My Former Spouse in North Carolina?
Separation can be a stressful thing for anyone to go through, especially if you regret splitting up. If you want to get back together with your former spouse, the court system in North Carolina makes it easy to do so. In fact, it can be argued that the state of North Carolina actively encourages couples to reconcile and maintain strong family bonds. When relationships fail, so do entire communities. Children are affected, and everyone suffers as a result.
Because of this, municipal and state governments will not raise many obstacles if you and your spouse decide to change your minds and not follow through with a divorce. With all that said, the process of reconciliation is not entirely seamless. There are a number of legal ramifications that you should keep in mind. If reconciliation is what you truly want, these legal barriers should not dissuade you from getting back together with your former spouse. It simply makes the most sense to educate yourself about the possible consequences of your actions down the line.
If you need help navigating this confusing process, you do not need to proceed alone. Experienced legal experts are always there to help.Both Spouses Must Agree to Reconcile
Perhaps the biggest barrier to reconciliation is the fact that both spouses must agree to get back together. Right away, this makes reconciliation more difficult compared to separation. If one spouse wants to separate, the other spouse does not need to agree. One spouse can simply pack their bags and leave. While it is true that the spouse who “abandons” the other one may face certain legal consequences and penalties, there is nothing stopping them from deciding they no longer want to be in the relationship.
This is an important distinction because it means that you only have a certain measure of control in the case of a reconciliation. No matter how badly you want to get back together with your spouse, there is no legal course of action that you can take that can “force” them to give the relationship another chance.The Steps Needed for a Reconciliation
Reconciliations occur when both spouses start living together in the same residence. This is another example of why both parties must agree to reconciliation, as you cannot force someone to live with you against their will. In certain situations, living with your spouse under the same roof may not be enough to constitute reconciliation. If you only live together for a short period of time, it is likely that a North Carolina judge may not consider this to be a reconciliation.
While the specific definition of reconciliation is somewhat vague, North Carolina has outlined quite strict guidelines as to what exactly it means in a legal context:
- Both spouses have moved into the same residence. Note that even if you are living in the same residence but in different bedrooms, this may still be seen as a reconciliation
- Sharing duties and responsibilities typical of a spousal relationship, such as chores, finances, and raising children
- Consistent intimate activities together (not isolated sexual encounters)
- Being seen in public behaving like a couple
- Presenting themselves as a couple to friends and family
While reconciliation can be a joyous development, there are a number of potential ways in which it can impact your life. In a legal context, this can take many forms:
- Alimony: Reconciliation can impact the way alimony is handled by the court system. From a logical standpoint, it often does not make sense to pay spousal support to someone if you are already living in the same residence as them and contributing financially to their well-being.
After reconciliation, you may no longer be able to seek alimony rewards because of illicit sexual activities committed by your former spouse. This is because the act of reconciliation is seen as “condonation” of these previous acts. In other words, the court assumes that you have forgiven each other for things like extramarital affairs after you have gotten back together and resumed the spousal relationship.
- Child Support: Reconciliation can also impact child support. If one spouse is receiving child support payments, these payments may be modified once both spouses start living together under the same roof. Because both spouses are now contributing financially to the child raising process, child support payments may no longer be necessary.
- Time of Separation: In North Carolina, couples must go through a one-year waiting period before finalizing their divorce. Once you reconcile, that one-year waiting period “resets.” If a subsequent separation occurs, the starting date is pushed back, and the “original” separation date and agreement are considered null and void. This has important implications for things like the distribution of assets, especially if the net worth of one spouse changes considerably from the first separation period to the second separation period.
If you need legal assistance with your divorce, separation, or reconciliation, reach out to Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at 704-370-2828. Our offices are conveniently located in Charlotte, Monroe and Mooresville.