Can I change a uncontested divorce to a contested divorce after I signed a separation agreement?

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Can I change a uncontested divorce to a contested divorce after I signed a separation agreement?

I signed a separation agreement and signed all the papers for a uncontested divorce. I am unable to get my belongings from my wife and discovered that she had a 2 year long affair and was planning this divorce for at least that amount of time. Can I make this a contested divorce?

Asked on September 16, 2011 under Family Law, Maryland

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You need to consult with a family or divorce law attorney to evaluate the situation, since every situation is different, and also you need to reference the terms of the separation agreement--the agreement is a contract, and so its specific terms are critical.

That said, as a general matter, you cannot reject or open up an executed separation agreement because you have discovered information that makes you wish you had not signed it, but which does not actually affect the performance or core terms of the agreement. So, for example, the information about your wife's infidelity would not let you modify or reject the agreement, since it does not affect the core terms or her performance under or of the agreement. It's a fact outside the agreement, like discovering, say, that she had never loved you in the first place, or that she had been a prostitute before your marriage, etc. As understandably upsetting as any of that would be, it does affect the agreement itself.

On the other hand, if your wife violates terms of the agreement, or lied about something core to the agreement (e.g. about her assets, income, etc.), then you may be able to do something about it.

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The particulars of how you would do this procedurally is best asked to an attorney in your area and I am assuming you need one to do this, because trying to say that you wish to have the court render the agreement void because it is based upon say fraud is not an easy endeavor.  I can surely understand how you must feel betrayed and just want to in some way get back at her. But you have to try and take a step back and think if in fact it is worth it to you to go through this again, monetarily and emotionally. I know that it is hard but you need to think with your head here not your heart. Good luck to you. 


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