Sara Evans and Jay Barker Have Reconciled After a Messy Separation

A country singer and a football player fell in love. Now, after domestic violence disputes, they’re back together.

Jamie Lerner - Author

Mar. 27 2024, Published 2:54 p.m. ET

Jay Barker and Sara Evans at the 47th Annual Academy of Country Music
Source: Getty Images

The year is 2006, and two famous folks are going through challenging divorces. Country singer-songwriter Sara Evans and football player Harry “Jay” Barker are introduced to each other by Sara’s marital counselor after their respective divorces. And the rest is history. But it’s a long history full of ups, downs, and even domestic violence disputes.

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When Jay and Sara met, they didn’t expect to fall in love. They simply thought they would be friends helping each other through their divorces, but when they would hang out with their kids, the kids encouraged them to start dating. Almost 20 years later, however, their relationship has famously gone through some pitfalls, so we outline their relationship timeline.

Jay Barker and Sara Evans at the 44th CMA Awards
Source: Getty Images
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Jay Barker and Sara Evans first met in 2006.

In 2006, both Jay and Sara were dealing with difficult divorces. Sara had just ended her relationship with politician Craig Schelske, with whom she shares three children. According to People, there was “mutual infidelity,” and both made several other allegations against one another related to drinking and drug use in front of their children.

Meanwhile, Jay Barker officially split from Amy DiGiovanna, his wife of 13 years, in 2007. They had four children together — Andrew, Braxton, and twins Sarah Ashlee and Harrison. Jay and Sara met through Sara’s marriage counselor, who introduced them because “he’d never known two people more alike,” Sara later told Birmingham magazine. “He felt we could at least be supportive friends.”

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Sara and Jay married on June 14, 2008.

Relationships move quickly in the spotlight! Sara and Jay were barely officially divorced from their previous partners by the time they wed in Nashville on June 14, 2008 in a “fairytale wedding,” Sara told PEOPLE.

In 2011, Sara and Jay shared they were considering having a baby.

Because Sara has three kids from a previous marriage and Jay has four, if they decide to have another, they would be the eighth sibling. “Having a child together would be a bridge, not just for us, but for our kids,” Jay said in an interview at the time. However, for whatever reason, they never had a child together.

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From 2015 to 2021, everything seemed good between Jay and Sara.

After their 2008 wedding, Jay relocated from Nashville to Alabama, which he admits loving in their Birmingham magazine interview. Throughout the years, both Jay and Sara shared pics on Instagram and often gushed about one another in public. But by early 2021, they shared their final social media appearance together on Instagram Live before their relationship hit the fan.

In April 2021, court documents showed that Jay and Sara separated.

On April 14, 2021, various media outlets obtained documents that proved they had been separated for about three months. Jay was living separately from Sara in Alabama and they were notably “estranged.”

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Sara Evans filed for divorce from Jay in August 2021.

Just a few months after their separation was announced, Sara was ready to make it official, citing “irreconcilable differences” in the documents. She also cited “inappropriate marital conduct” and “accusatory behavior.”

In a later exclusive with PEOPLE, Sara shared, “I was so madly in love with him, and still am, that it took me forever to tell people. I was in denial. I thought, ‘I can change it. I can manage his behavior. I can just make sure that nothing ever upsets him.’” But she eventually realized the relationship was toxic and she cut it off.

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In January 2022, Jay was arrested for a domestic violence incident.

After Sara and Jay got lunch in Jan. 2022 to discuss their divorce, he allegedly attempted to hit the car she was in with his car. He was “backing up his vehicle at a high rate of speed attempting to hit them but missed.” Jay was released on a $10,000 bond and has since apologized for his actions and worked to better himself.

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He conceded to a “best interest plea” and was convicted with misdemeanor reckless endangerment with a sentence of 1-year probation and a 26-week batterers intervention program. But it seems the program did its work because things took a turn for Jay and Sara in the years since.

Jay Barker and Sara Evans at the 53rd CMA Awards
Source: Getty Images
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Now in March 2024, Jay and Sara have reconciled and are back together.

Sara announced on her Diving Deep podcast that she and Jay have reconciled. Despite filing for divorce, they never fully pulled the plug, and after lots of therapy, they’ve been able to work through their problems. “Everybody says that I shouldn’t contact you, but you are still my wife,” Jay sent in a 2023 text, which Sara revealed in her podcast.

He agreed to go to individual and couples therapy to try to save their relationship, and Sara realized, “It took me filing for divorce, I think, for him to realize, ‘Oh s--t, she’s serious. This is it.’ Some people have marriage problems that are like, they fight all the time. We didn’t fight all the time. He fought me. When he was in his low spots, he fought against me, he pushed me away, pushed my love away. So every situation is different. I would never encourage anybody to stay in a dangerous situation.”

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Jay Barker and Sara Evans in 2017
Source: Getty Images

We just hope that Jay and Sara made the right decision for everyone going forward!

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