Does Separation Time Count in Divorce

By Beverly Bird

The length of time you and your spouse are separated can play a part in your divorce proceedings under some circumstances, but in other cases, it doesn't matter at all. It depends entirely on where you live, and if you want to – or even can – file for divorce on fault grounds.

The length of time you and your spouse are separated can play a part in your divorce proceedings under some circumstances, but in other cases, it doesn't matter at all. It depends entirely on where you live, and if you want to – or even can – file for divorce on fault grounds.

Separation as Grounds

In some states, such as Maryland, separation is the only no-fault grounds available if you want to file for divorce without accusing your spouse of any wrongdoing. In Maryland, you must meet the separation requirement, which specifies the time you spend living apart from your spouse, before you may file for divorce. This isn't true everywhere, however. Illinois requires a separation period for its no-fault grounds, but you can live separately for the requisite period of time after you file. Your divorce will become final after you've passed the separation milestone, which is usually six months if you and your spouse are in agreement to end your marriage. Fault grounds, such as adultery or cruelty, typically don't require any period of separation.

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Qualifying for Residency

Some states, such as California, allow you to file for judicial separation – commonly called legal separation – even if you don't meet the residency requirement to file for divorce. In these jurisdictions, after you've lived in the state long enough, you can simply amend or convert your separation decree to a divorce decree if you like, so that your separation counts toward your divorce in this respect, as well.

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Do You Have to Be Separated for 6 Months to File for a Divorce?

References

Related articles

How to File for Legal Separation in North Carolina

Legal separation is one of those terms that can mean different things, depending on where you live. Some states don't recognize it at all – including North Carolina. The state doesn't recognize a judicial process resulting in a separation decree. Separation is still a pivotal aspect of the state's divorce laws, however. You can't file for it, but you generally cannot get divorced without it.

Can Only One Party File in a No-Fault Divorce?

If spouses always had to file for divorce together, it would most likely drop the divorce rate to something close to zero. Your spouse's cooperation is not required when you file, even if you choose not to cite fault grounds in your divorce complaint or petition. A no-fault divorce is not the same as an uncontested divorce, in which spouses reach an agreement regarding all issues. In this case, they can file a petition together in many states.

How Long After a Separation Can You Obtain a Divorce?

If your state accepts separation as grounds for divorce, this is one of the easiest grounds on which to file, because it is usually indisputable. In most cases, one spouse stays in the marital residence and the other moves elsewhere. You don’t have to go to excessive lengths to prove your spouse guilty of any particular misconduct. However, you can’t separate and file for divorce a week later. All states require that you remain separated for a while before you can file.

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