One benefit of getting a legal separation is that it basically acts as a trial divorce. You and your spouse can try out living apart before taking on the expense and challenge of getting an actual divorce. What happens if you and your spouse decide to get back together, though? The good news is you can cancel the separation agreement and get back together. Here's what you need to know about this process.
Must File a Legal Motion
To end a legal separation agreement, you must file a motion with the court to invalidate the document. Legal separations typically encompass the parsing of marital property, assignment of child custody, and establishment of child support orders. Since none of these things apply in a regular marriage, they need to be revoked to reinstate your rights as a married person.
Depending on where you live, you will be required to file either a motion to vacate or a motion to dismiss with the court. You can learn the exact motion you'll need to file by speaking to the court clerk, contacting an attorney, or researching the issue online. You and your spouse will be required to sign the motion, and you will typically have to go to court to formally testify before a judge that you want the legal separation to end.
In some jurisdictions, people who are legally separated and want to get back together may be asked to submit a plan or statement discussing how things have changed and/or how they intend on managing their marriage to avoid ending up in the same place down the road. Even if you're not required to do this, it's a good idea to sit with your spouse and work out the issues that lead to your need to separate.
Beware the Legal Consequences
Reversing a separation agreement essentially eliminates the protections you had while you and your spouse were apart, and your marriage will continue as though you had never undergone the trial divorce. This means any debt acquired by either of you will become both your responsibilities, and any assets you received during your separation will become part of the marital estate.
If you want to protect yourself from a possible future divorce, it's a good idea to develop a post-nuptial agreement that details which debts belong to which spouse and who owns which assets. This way, if the marriage does ultimately end in divorce, you won't end up paying debt that's really your spouse's responsibility or losing assets you worked hard to obtain.
For more information about separation agreements or help litigating a trial divorce, contact a separation agreement lawyer.