By Jennifer M. Paine
If you are thinking about reconciling with your ex-wife after your divorce is finalized, then there are five questions you need to ask yourself.
These divorce questions to ask are divided into three separate articles:
1. How long have you been separated?
Most newly divorced guys go through an adjustment phase post-divorce that can last upwards of a year. There is the financial devastation to recover from. There are parenting schedules to work on and new parenting tasks, like getting the kids to school and to the doctor, to take on. And there is the eventual first date post-divorce.
Do not let this adjustment scare you into preferring your “old life.” On the other hand, if you have been divorced for more than a year and have found yourself thinking about your ex-wife, and vice versa, than exploring a new relationship with her may not be a bad idea.
2. Has either of you dated since then?
For the same reasons, it is important to distinguish between a genuine interest in reconciliation with your ex from a preference for an easier relationship.
Dating post-divorce is not easy. It will take time, and probably a few failed dates, to get back into the game.
3. How will this affect your children (or other family members)?
Again, make sure to discuss with your ex what you will and will not discuss with your children and family members.
You do not want to give them unreasonable hopes that you will reconcile while you are just testing the waters. That can, and often does, lead to children reliving the hurt from the divorce after they have adjusted to, or at least accepted, that mom and dad are separated.
4. If you cohabit, what happens to any support order?
In most jurisdictions, child support and alimony orders are final orders of the court even if you do eventually cohabit with your ex. Be sure to keep these payments current so that do not develop an arrearage.
In most jurisdictions, these arrearages are not modifiable unless and until you file a motion to change your orders. This means, you could be living together and pooling your income, rather than paying under those support orders, only to find that you have a huge arrearage that you still owe – which causes a lot of additional problems, and could see you facing jail or losing your license or worse – if you and your ex ever call it quits again.
Consult with an attorney and consider modifying your orders before you decide to cohabit.
5. If we remarry, what happens to our divorce decree and other orders?
Similarly, you may be surprised to learn that not all of your divorce decree is extinguished, or negated, if you and your ex-wife remarry.
For example, future division of retirement accounts and entitlement to alimony may be based on the years of the second marriage only, not the first marriage and the second marriage combined.
Always consult with a divorce attorney before your remarriage to determine what parts of your decree will survive your remarriage.
Hopefully, your reconciliation will be a lasting one. But, if it fails, at least you considered the questions and took these basic steps toward protecting yourself, your finances, and your family.
Cordell & Cordell:
Jennifer M. Paine is a Michigan Divorce Lawyer with Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in Michigan, and has been admitted pro hac vice in Illinois, Ohio, and the United States Court of Federal Claims.
Ms. Paine received her Bachelor of Arts in English and Mathematics from Albion College and graduated Summa Cum Laude. She received her Juris Doctorate from MSU College of Law and graduated Summa Cum Laude.