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

By Beverly Bird

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.

Legal Separation

There's usually nothing stopping you from filing a complaint for separation even if your spouse is still living with you. Living together might defeat the purpose of filing, however. A separation judgment or decree defines the terms by which you'll live apart. The same applies to marital settlement agreements. If you're living together, custody probably isn't an issue yet -- and you may not have to deal with financial issues yet either. Legal separation in any form typically paves the way for you and your spouse to live apart.

Separation as Grounds

If you and your spouse are separating to establish grounds for divorce, this may change the picture. In some no-fault states, such as North Carolina, spouses must live in two different homes for a full year before they can file for divorce. The state doesn't recognize fault grounds such as adultery or cruelty. In other states, such as Maryland, you have a choice: You can file for divorce on fault grounds, or you can live separately – in two different homes – for a year. Illinois offers similar options, but spouses may be considered separated even if they continue to reside in one dwelling.

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How Many Days Apart Equals a Legal Separation?

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Related articles

How to Separate in a Marriage

Divorce isn't for everyone--at least not immediately. For any number of reasons, spouses might want to live separately for a while before taking the final step to officially terminate their marriage. Depending on where you live, there may be more than one way to do this. Some states recognize legal separations, but a few don't, including Texas, Delaware, Florida, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana. This doesn't mean you can't separate if you live in one of these states. It just means courts in these states will not issue a judgment of separation, so you'll have to create a separation agreement instead.

Connecticut Divorce Law on Living Separate Lives in the Same Home

Sometimes it is not feasible for one spouse to move out of the marital home in preparation for a divorce. The drive to save money by maintaining one household, as well as keeping both parents in frequent contact with the children, may encourage you and your spouse to remain living in the same home but establish separate lives. In Connecticut, you can still get a divorce if you live in the same house, but you cannot base the divorce on grounds of separation.

Arkansas Laws for Separation

Marital separation can be particularly complicated in Arkansas because the state recognizes two types of marriages and three kinds of legal separation. Sorting through all the laws and rules pertaining to each can be daunting, but the method of separation you choose comes down to a few basics: your personal preferences, your ability to negotiate and how you got married.

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