Divorces are granted when there is an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, meaning that there is no chance of the parties reconciling with one another. Reconciliations, nevertheless, can sometimes take place after divorce proceedings have been instituted, although attempts at reconciliation may be doomed at the start.

Reconciliation agreements are a suitable way to address this issue, whereby it is agreed in writing between the parties that they shall attempt reconciliation whilst also providing for what their respective obligations will be if reconciliation fails.

The purpose of these types of agreements is to avoid divorce where possible, whilst acknowledging that divorce may simply be inevitable. If reconciliation is successful, then the marriage is restored and a divorce is avoided. If it fails, the parties do not have to incur the costs required to litigate the divorce again up to the original point when they first decided to reconcile their marriage.

These usually include provisions for the parties to attend upon a mediator or psychologist to assist the parties with the reconciliation in dealing with their issues in a healthy manner and/or helping the partie to be able to communicate with one another more effectively and/or get along with each other again.

This document can be signed in tandem with a Settlement Agreement and Parenting Plan in the divorce action whereby it provides that if reconciliation should fail within a certain period of time then the provisions of the Settlement Agreement and Parenting Plan signed by the parties shall come into effect.

This allows for the divorce to proceed on an unopposed basis, which is cost-effective. This does, however, involve the parties contemplating what the position will be after a failed reconciliation, and it may be agreed that the reconciliation agreement shall only impose limited obligations on the parties in certain respects but not others, which will still need to be determined or agreed upon between the parties.

Reconciliation agreements remain an option for parties who are unsure whether they wish to proceed with the divorce or attempt reconciliation.

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Author – Murray Taylor

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