Filing the Complaint for Divorce often signifies the end of a marriage. It carries with it a certain stigma that the notion of love has gone and that a married couple will never be together again. However, it is not uncommon for parties in divorce to eventually reconcile and continue their marriage, whether because they did not want to get divorced before but felt forced in some way and/or they have decided to give the marriage another try.
Whatever the reason, reconciliation is possible, but parties should be wary of pitfalls that could ultimately hurt them if their attempt at reconciliation fails.
First, in many cases, the filing of the Complaint for Divorce is the date that, combined with the marriage date, is seen as the bookends of the marital period. Defining the marital period is very important, both for division of assets as well as for a support analysis.
If you and your spouse choose to attempt to reconcile after the Complaint was filed, the Complaint will be withdrawn. While this withdrawal is “without prejudice,” meaning that you would not be precluded from later filing another Complaint for Divorce if needed, you may lose that cut-off date bookend and the marital period will be extended to the second Complaint. The consequences could be very detrimental.
The second issue, which is related to the first, is that sometimes a party wishes to inappropriately alter the various analyses in the divorce process under the guise of an attempt to reconcile. As stated above, if the Complaint for Divorce is withdrawn and the parties continue the marriage, the cut-off date for the marital period disappears.
However, this reconciliation in lieu of continuing the divorce litigation may also allow your spouse to avoid scrutiny while he/she inappropriately hides money or other assets, reduces or negates their income, or perform other actions in efforts to improve their outlook in the divorce. These actions, often referenced as “divorce planning,” may lead to your ultimate detriment when you find out your spouse had no intentions in reconciliation after all, and you end up in a less advantageous position in the divorce.
When both parties are acting in good faith and wish to remain married for the right reasons, it could lead to success and happiness. However, you must be wary of the sad alternative.
Protect yourself! Often the signs of divorce planning may be visible to experienced counsel, and, if there is any doubt, you can be protected. A reconciliation agreement may be drafted which could counteract any potential negative consequences should your attempt at reconciliation go awry or if your spouse intends on “divorce planning.”
Each agreement is unique and is specially tailored to the specific issues in each case. As with all blogs on this site, none of the above represents legal advice. If you encounter any of these issues, I strongly advise you to consult with experienced legal counsel immediately.