Court Denies New Hampshire Couple’s Request to Undo Divorce

A New Hampshire couple learned that there’s no turning back once a divorce is finalized – even after reconciliation.

By Avital Borisovsky
December 29, 2015
undo divorce

Decided your divorce was a mistake? You might be able to get the court to undo it, but only in some states. A New Hampshire couple – who reconciled after their divorce was finalized – learned they can’t have their divorce undone in their state.

Terrie Harmon and Thomas McCarron argued that because they have reconciled, their divorce decree was erroneous. According to the Associated Press, the pair had originally filed for divorce in January 2014 after 24 years of marriage; their divorce was finalized six months later. In March of this year, they filed a joint motion to have the divorce undone.

The case went to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, and on Dec. 2, the state court ruled that the law does not allow couples to get un-divorced.

Some states in the U.S. allow couples to have their divorces undone within a specific time frame or under certain circumstances, including Illinois, Nebraska, Mississippi, Arkansas, Maryland, and Kentucky. In other states – such as New York and South Dakota – courts do not have the authority to do so.

Currently, New Hampshire law allows divorces to be retracted for the following reasons: fraud, accident, mistake, or misfortune.

Joshua Gordon, a lawyer representing the lower court that originally ruled against the couple’s request, stated there are several reasons why a divorced couple may want to un-divorce instead of simply remarrying.

‘‘I think it was partly sentimental and partly that they had some business interests that a divorce and remarry would be more complicated than undoing the divorce,’’ he explained.

Harmon, a lawyer, argued that having to prove a divorce was legally flawed in order to have it undone does not serve the interests of couples who have reconciled. In court papers, she stated that the law for undoing a divorce is "designed to balance the interests of adverse parties."

“For divorced couples, it is often important to have the solace of knowing that their former spouse is indeed former,” said Gordon, adding that granting the couple’s request could threaten the finality of all divorces in the state.

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