Life is fluid and people change their minds all the time. We see this proven when people find themselves in cycles of breaking up then making up with a partner. Our hearts and our emotions can be unpredictable, especially when there is a shared history and an emotional investment that is hard to abruptly end.
North Carolina law requires that couples separate for a year prior to seeking a divorce. This means that at least one spouse intends to separate and that they live separate and apart from one another. What many couples discover is that a year is a long time. This begs the questions: what happens when couples get back together during that year?
What are the Effects of Reconciliation?
When a couple reconciles during a separation period, the clock resets. In other words, a couple cannot separate for eight months, reconcile, then count those eight months toward their year if they separate again. They have to restart their year to obtain an absolute divorce. In addition, reconciliation also impacts the date of separation, which is important for valuing marital assets for property division purposes.
What constitutes reconciliation?
General Statutes Section 52-10.2 states that “’Resumption of marital relations’ shall be defined as voluntary renewal of the husband and wife relationship, as shown by the totality of the circumstances.” When looking at the “totality” of the circumstances, the court will look at evidence of: (1) the intent of the parties; (2) their overall actions; (3) whether they resumed and continued an intimate relationship; (4) whether they shared marital responsibilities; (5) whether they held themselves out as married during their separation period; (6) the length of the alleged reconciliation; (7) how the couple treated marital property and finances during this time period; and (8) the living situations of the spouses and whether a separate residence was maintained
However, relationships are fluid, and North Carolina law has some recognition of this. Significantly, under the law that provides for Absolute Divorce, “Isolated incidents of sexual intercourse between the parties shall not toll the statutory period required for divorce predicated on separation of one year.”
New Direction Family Law
If you intend to get a divorce, contact New Direction Family Law. The laws of North Carolina can be complex and there are steps you need to take to protect your legal rights regarding property division, child custody, alimony, and child support. We can help provide you with all of the information you need to make informed decisions about your future. At New Direction Family Law our attorneys take pride in providing compassionate, effective legal advocacy. Call New Direction Family Law at (919) 719-3470 to schedule a consultation or visit our website.
Sarah J. Hink
New Direction Family Law