You can unfollow someone or unfriend them — but undivorce them?
Even though a New Hampshire couple is making headlines for trying — and failing — to undivorce, family law attorney Richard A. Roane says it’s unlikely for Michigan courts to vacate a divorce.
“Changing your mind isn’t enough reason to undo a divorce,” said Roane, a partner at Warner Norcross + Judd LLP who has been practicing family law for 28+ years. “There’s not a provision in the Michigan Rules of Court that would allow a divorce judgment to be undone. The New Hampshire case was probably the result of poor tax planning and deficient legal advice. The couple realized too late that if they were still married, they would have a lower tax bill.”
Trying to undo a divorce in Michigan would result in a tangle of tax, health and other benefit complications, including the question of paternity. Only a handful of states will vacate divorces at the couple’s request, but even then for specific reasons and within a specific time limit. Roane said that in Michigan, there are extremely limited reasons for a judge to set aside a judgment of divorce, including:
- In the case of fraud
- In light of newly discovered evidence
- If the court didn’t have jurisdiction
- If a clerical mistake was made
“Remarrying would be the easiest remedy, although it sounds as if it would not have worked in the New Hampshire case,” Roane said. “It’s refreshing the court didn’t let them undo the divorce because of all the tax complications. This couple sounds like they were penny wise but pound foolish.”
Roane is in the midst of his annual “January rush,” when unhappy couples who have held it together through the holidays finally reach out to divorce attorneys to end their misery. He is available to talk about “undivorce” as well any other topic related to family law.