Most couples do not reconcile after divorce. But yes, it happens. As a family law attorney, I have seen couples reconcile even after a messy and expensive divorce. High-profile celebrities Pink and Carey Hart are one example of a couple reuniting after divorce. They reconciled two years after their separation. Carey Hart famously stated in People magazine “[w]e’re rebuilding. Sometimes you have to take a couple steps back to move forward.” Jeff and Cheryl Scruggs, parents of Lauren Scruggs (the fashion blogger who lost her arm in a propeller plane accident) are another wonderful example of reconciliation after divorce. They said “I Do” for the second time after 7 years of divorce. This demonstrates nothing is impossible and hope is never lost.
While it is my job to assist couples in their separation and divorce, I believe in second chances. My heart swells with joy when clients give their marriage a second chance. What does reconciliation look like from a legal perspective? Here are some things to consider before you reconcile with your ex:
1. Legal Ramifications of Reconciliation: If you and your spouse reconcile during divorce proceedings, talk with your attorney about what steps must be taken to stop the legal proceedings. Each state will be different, so it’s important to talk to a trained professional about what needs to be done to withdraw your petition for divorce. Generally, when a petition is filed for legal separation or divorce, you and your spouse submit a petition to separate and an initial filing fee has already been paid. The initial filing fee is non-refundable. If you and your spouse stop the divorce proceedings and reconcile, but then later file for legal separation or divorce again, you will need to start the process from the beginning and a new filing fee will be required by each party. Once a divorce is finalized, you and your ex-spouse are now considered “single” under the eyes of the law, so you and your ex-spouse may marry again if you choose to do so.
2. To Reconcile or Not? Reconciliation isn’t for everyone. It is certainly a personal decision between you and your spouse. To be effective, both parties must genuinely want to reconcile. Reconciliation also requires effort by both parties to nurture this new relationship. On the flip side, reconciliation may be out of the question if the damage done by the divorce is so severe and difficult to overcome. If there is a history of domestic violence or emotional abuse or manipulation, reconciliation would probably be a mistake for the parties and their children.
3. Keep The Lines Of Communication Open: If you hope to reconcile with your ex-spouse, maintain a good line of communication. Try to maintain a sense of civility, if not only for the sake of your children and their best interests. Consider counseling, and don’t be afraid to ask your spouse if he/she will attend counseling with you. A counselor can help guide you in the decision to reconcile and help you and your spouse avoid past mistakes in your marriage. You may also learn new skills on how to resolve the issues which led to the divorce in the first place.
Reconciliation should not be taken lightly. It takes significant effort and time. But if successful, it can be a wonderful thing for you and your family. Whether you reconcile or divorce, remember that you’re ending one chapter in your life and starting another, and hopefully happier, new one.