How Many Days Apart Equals a Legal Separation?

By Beverly Bird

Legal separation is not typically defined by the amount of time you and your spouse live apart. In many cases, it depends on whether an agreement or a court order is in place that governs the terms of your separation. State laws vary, and you may be legally separated when an agreement or court order exists, even if neither of you has moved out of the marital home yet.

Legal separation is not typically defined by the amount of time you and your spouse live apart. In many cases, it depends on whether an agreement or a court order is in place that governs the terms of your separation. State laws vary, and you may be legally separated when an agreement or court order exists, even if neither of you has moved out of the marital home yet.

Separation Agreements

Some states, such as New York, do not provide for a litigated separation process. In these jurisdictions, you and your spouse are separated when you create an agreement resolving all pertinent issues and you sign it. The agreement acts as an enforceable contract, and it paves the way for one of you to leave the marital home.

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Separation by Court Order

Depending on where you live, you may have the option of filing a petition for legal separation, just as you would for divorce. The complaint may require that you cite grounds for the separation. If your state requires that you have been living apart for a period of time, you would have to meet this requirement before you can file for a legal separation.

Separation as Grounds for Divorce

If you're using your separation as grounds for divorce, you and your spouse may have to live separately, in different households, to qualify. For example, in North Carolina, the only grounds for absolute divorce are separation for one year or incurable insanity. The separation period begins when you move into separate households. Other states, like Virginia, recognize that you can legally live separately and apart while under the same roof.

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Can I Waive the Length of Separation Requirements in an Illinois Divorce?

References

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Rules for Marital Separation in North Carolina

If you are planning on a legal separation in North Carolina, there are state laws that apply to your situation. The state will recognize the separation depending on the circumstances, and will also allow you to establish an agreement on the division of property, child support and custody, and other post-marital issues.

Can a Person Move During a Divorce in Arizona?

If you and your spouse lived in Arizona at the time your marriage fell apart, then that's the proper place to file for divorce, called dissolution of marriage. However, divorce is sometimes a lengthy process, and you may want to move out of state before your divorce is final. Moving likely will not change your divorce, but it may impact the court’s authority to decide issues like child custody.

Can You Be Legally Separated and Live in the Same Home?

Legal separation is one of those terms in divorce law that varies from state to state. It may mean that you filed a complaint with the court and received a separation decree, which you can do in a few states, such as Ohio. But not all states provide for this kind of legal process. For example, in New Jersey, you can simply negotiate and sign a settlement agreement with your spouse.

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