Court Rejects Request to “Undo” Divorce

January 11, 2016
Louis Sternberg


Recently, New Hampshire’s Supreme Court rejected a request by both the former-husband and the former-wife to “undo” their divorce. If the case were brought in New York, the result would have been the same.

In New York, once two people obtain a divorce, they can’t subsequently decide that they wish to undo the divorce. New York law allows any person to obtain a divorce if he or she no longer wishes to remain married. However, this decision to obtain a divorce, once made, cannot be undone. Once two people divorce, the only remedy available in most instances if they wish to reconcile is to remarry. There are some instances in which a divorce can be undone, but only in limited instances where it is shown that one or both of the parties committed fraud or made a mistake. These are exceptions to the general law in New York, which clearly sets forth that a divorce decree is final and cannot be undone. It is advisable to make sure that divorce is what you really want before you follow through with that decision because once a divorce is final, there is no way to undo it.

A divorce severs the legal relationship between the parties. Even if the parties later decide that the emotional relationship still exists, the only recourse is to remarry because the legal relationship has previously ended as a result of the divorce. In contrast, other states may allow divorcees to undo the divorce in certain instances, but New York is clear. There is no statutory authority to undo a divorce once it is done.