Reconciliation is the ending of the marital separation. It requires a good faith offer to reconcile and acceptance.
By Attorney Alyssa Knisely, Divorce Lawyer, Harrisburg, PA
I had written a prior article regarding separation and that there was no such thing as a "legal separation." But now I want to examine the converse, that is, what happens if the parties to a separation resume the marriage and reconcile. Is it a true reconcilationi and what affect on the divorce?
The Offer to Reconcile must be made in Good Faith
An offer of reconciliation should amount to an offer to resume the matrimonial cohabitation. That is, the parties should resume marital cohabitation, living together as "man and wife" once more. The offer to return must be made, not for the simple purpose of defeating a legal right, but in good faith, with the intention of carrying it out in its spirit if accepted by the other. Reconciliation puts an end a claim of desertion by an injured spouse and bars a suit for divorce. The offer should be a sincere, personal request by the actual party and should not be made through an attorney. If the offer to resume marital relations is not made in good faith and with an intent to live in the relation of husband and wife, but with a view to defeating a divorce or for any other dishonest purpose, the injured party may decline to accept it without being deprived of the right to procure a divorce for desertion after the expiration of the statutory period.
Do I have to accept an offer to reconcile if I don't want to?
A spouse is under no duty to accept offers of reconciliation which are coupled with unreasonable demands and which cannot have been made in sincerity and good faith. A spouse also may refuse an offer of reconciliation for a cause which would entitle that spouse to a divorce.
What effect will a reconciliation have on my case?
There are numerous disadvantages to the divorce case if one accepts a good faith offer of reconciliation, including:
- Loss of a claim for alimony, support, or APL;
- Loss of a right to request entry of a final decree;
- Loss of a right to claim injured spouse status in support proceedings and during equitable distribution hearings; and
- Possible reduction of your equitable distribution.
However, the obvious advantage is the regaining of your marriage. Assuming that the parties can work through their differences, this is obviously the best result. However, a failed reconciliation may still have deleterious effects on your divorce matter.