Can Spouses Reconcile After Separation in North Carolina?

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: ” I’m considering separating from my spouse; what actions should I refrain from doing?”


It is not uncommon for spouses who become “legally separated” to reconcile instead of filing for divorce. Under North Carolina law, a couple must be separated for one year and a day before they can seek a divorce.

merry-go-round-Charlotte-Monroe-Mooresville-Family-Lawyer-300x201While spouses do have a right to reconcile after separation in North Carolina, it can complicate your case if you later decide to file for divorce after reconciliation.

Consult with a North Carolina divorce attorney at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, if you are considering reconciliation after legal separation.


Can Spouses Reconcile Once They Separate?

Yes, you can reconcile instead of seeking a divorce after separation. Under North Carolina law, spouses must live separately and apart for one year and a day before they can file for divorce.

However, spouses may change their minds and reconcile after the legal separation. If you decide to get back together instead of filing for divorce after separation, you and your spouse can reconcile. This is known as the “resumption of marital relations.”

North Carolina courts consider different factors when determining whether a separated couple has resumed marital relations.


How Do North Carolina Courts Define Reconciliation?

Rather than considering one factor, the court will examine the “totality of the circumstances” when determining whether a couple has reconciled after separation. Some of the circumstances considered by the court include:

  • Are the spouses living together again?
  • Does either spouse still keep a separate residence after reconciliation?
  • Do the spouses have sexual relations again?
  • Do the spouses share their financial, child care, and other responsibilities as a couple again?

The fact that the couple is having sexual relations alone may not be enough to establish reconciliation after separation in North Carolina. Thus, there must be evidence of several factors listed above to confirm that the spouses resumed marital relations.


How Does Reconciliation Affect Your Divorce Case?

Reconciliation after separation can complicate your future divorce. If you get back together with your spouse instead of seeking a divorce but later decide to file for divorce, you will have to live separately and apart for another full year to seek a divorce.

Because North Carolina imposes a mandatory separation period of a year, it is vital to think wisely before reconciling with your spouse. It may also be a good idea to have a lawyer draft a separation agreement and include a section specifying what would happen if the spouses decide to reconcile.

If you and your spouse reconcile and then become legally separated again, the most recent date of separation will become the new date for the purposes of valuing marital assets for equitable distribution of property upon divorce.

Also, reconciliation after separation may excuse prior acts of marital misconduct, which may be a factor for spouses seeking to obtain alimony or child custody in North Carolina.

If you and your spouse reconcile and you had knowledge of your spouse’s extramarital affair or another type of marital misconduct at the time of the reconciliation, you may be waiving your right to request spousal support on the basis of your spouse’s marital misconduct.

Speak with our knowledgeable divorce attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, if you are considering reconciling with your spouse after separation. Do not hesitate to schedule a consultation with a North Carolina divorce attorney. Get a phone or video consultation by calling at (704) 370-2828 to speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today or find additional resources here.







The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes two Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.





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