Court to NH Couple: You Can't Undo Divorce

They went to state Supreme Court to try to vacate decree
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 26, 2015 8:38 AM CST
Court to NH Couple: You Can't Undo Divorce

Should those irreconcilable differences suddenly become reconcilable, don't go looking to get un-divorced in New Hampshire. The state's Supreme Court this month upheld a lower court ruling refusing to vacate a couple's 2014 divorce after 24 years of marriage. Terrie Harmon and her ex-husband, Thomas McCarron, argued that their divorce decree was erroneous because they mended fences and are a couple once more. But the justices said the law specifically allows them to grant divorces—not undo them. Courts in some states—including Illinois, Mississippi, and Kentucky—will vacate divorces within a certain time frame or under certain circumstances. Others—including New York and South Dakota—maintain they, like New Hampshire, have no authority to undo a divorce.

Attorney Joshua Gordon, appointed to defend the lower court's ruling, said allowing the couple's divorce to be undone could jeopardize the finality of all divorces. "Divorce is a uniquely fraught area of litigation," he argued. "For divorced couples, it is often important to have the solace of knowing that their former spouse is indeed former." Harmon and McCarron did not return calls seeking the answer to the question: Why not just remarry? New Hampshire law does allow for divorces to be set aside for reasons of fraud, accident, mistake, or misfortune. Gordon says none of those circumstances happened in the Harmon-McCarron divorce, and the reasons for trying to vacate the decree were at least partly sentimental. (Researchers say they've found the "most consistent significant predictor" of happy marriages.)

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