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Can a divorce be reversed? New Hampshire court says no
Terrie Harmon and her ex-husband, Thomas McCarron, were married 24 years when they decided to divorce. When they reconciled, they asked a New Hampshire court to vacate the divorce, but it declined. Now the state's Supreme Court has weighed in. - photo by Lois M Collins
Terrie Harmon and her ex-husband, Thomas McCarron, had been married 24 years when they decided to divorce in 2014. Not long after that, they reconciled and asked a court in New Hampshire to vacate their divorce.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court has now sided with the lower court's decision that it could not undo a divorce. According to an Associated Press report, the unanimous decision by the state high court "said the law specifically allows them to grant divorces not undo them."

Joshua Gordon, an attorney appointed to defend the lower court's decision, told the AP that in certain specific instances, a divorce can be overturned, including "fraud, accident, mistake or misfortune." None of which, he added, appeared to apply to the Harmon-McCarron divorce.

Aspects of a divorce decree can be modified as situations change, according to a LegalZoom guide. It said that "after the divorce is final, the court prepares a written record of the issues brought forth during the divorce. This record is commonly known as a 'divorce decree.' Depending on your circumstances and your state's laws, you may be able to have your divorce decree modified at a later date."

Alimony and child custody, for instance, can be altered as circumstances change, it said. It added, "Divorces generally take longer and are more expensive if one party disagrees with the divorce and wants to remain married. In some states, such as Mississippi, if your former spouse can raise a valid reason before the court as to why the finalized divorce decree is invalid, the court may overturn the decree and reopen the case for review. This voids the previously finalized divorce essentially 're-marrying' the couple until the court makes a ruling.

States differ in whether they will reverse a divorce, many of them following what the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure calls a "rule 60," which sets specific circumstances like those Gordon previously noted. It also notes that there's a time limit when such a reversal is possible. The AP reported that "Illinois, Nebraska, Mississippi, Arkansas, Maryland and Kentucky will vacate divorces within a certain time frame or under certain circumstances." Individuals have to look at the rules in their states.

Typically, couples that reconcile remarry, rather than trying to undo a divorce, Gordon told AP.
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