A couple from New Hampshire in the far north east of the United States have been told they cannot cancel their divorce.
Terrie Harmon and Thomas McCarron officially divorced in July 2014 after no less than 24 years together but they have since reconciled and are now living together once more. In March this year, they applied to cancel their divorce rather than remarry. Harmon, who is a lawyer by trade, argued that their reconciliation meant that they should not have to demonstrate that their divorce was legally flawed. But the courts were unpersuaded.
The couple took their case to the Supreme Court of New Hampshire in capital city Concord but Justices there unanimously upheld the lower court’s refusal, saying that state law only allows judges to grant divorces and they have no power to ‘vacate’ divorce decrees.
Attorney Joshua Gordon successfully defended the state’s position, telling the Supreme Court that the power to undoing the couple’s divorce could create an uncomfortable precedent for other former couples.
“Divorce is a uniquely fraught area of litigation. For divorced couples, it is often important to have the solace of knowing that their former spouse is indeed former.”
States take different views on the cancellation of previously issued divorce decrees. A number, including New York and South Dakota, insist they have no power to rescind them, while others – amongst them Illinois, Nebraska, Maryland and Mississippi – will do so within a certain period of time.