What is considered a legal separation prior to a divorce?

My spouse and I are planning on getting a divorce. In our state, you have to be separated for 12 months before you can start the legal process. However, due to the economy, we decided to live separated under the same roof. Will this count towards the separation or does separation mean that we have to live apart from each other? How do you prove this?

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    4 Responses to What is considered a legal separation prior to a divorce?

    1. Sapphire_Eyes says:


      Separation and Separate Maintenance
      Separation, as the term implies, means the wife and husband are living apart. The wife and husband generally are not required to separate in order to obtain a divorce, although for psychological reasons, it usually works out that way. In some states, certain grounds for divorce may require that the parties live apart for a specified period of time, but in most states there are grounds for divorce that do not require a period of separation.

      A legal separation also means the husband and wife are living apart, but a legal separation has the added element that the arrangement is ordered by the court or agreed to by the parties in a written document. The fact that the separation is part of a court order or written agreement makes it a “legal separation”

      I got the information from findlaw.com and as you said some states require legal separation before a divorce while others do not. There is nothing referring to living in separate homes, but you might want to make sure by checking with your state bylaws. They should have some kind of website, or check the phone book.

    2. alexis88883 says:

      you may need a legal separation in your state. This requires that you go and file for it. I don’t know if your state allows you to live in the same house or not. You did not say which state you are in.

    3. puppysyndrome says:

      You need to file for a legal separation. It will become effective the date it is signed. In 12 months from the date you can file for divorce. My daughter and her ex husband did this last year. She stayed in the house for 4 months after filing but it became too difficult for her as he kept trying to reconcile with her, was going in her room at night when she was sleeping because he wanted to talk etc. She finally left and got her own place and it went smoothly from there. During the remaining 8 months they were apart, he bought her out and she was able to buy her own place with her share.
      During the 4 months she stayed, she kept a day book and wrote down each time he tried to confront her or went into her room just so it would be documented but the information ended up never being used.

    4. BabeHart says:

      .I’ve lived in states where the requirement was you had to "live separate and apart" for the time of the separation…so living under the same roof but sleeping in separate bedrooms wouldn’t count. You really need to research the laws in your state/location. You also may or may not need an official legal ‘separation’ since, as you said, what’s to prove you didn’t decide yesterday to divorce and walk into the attorney’s office today claiming you’ve lived apart from each other for months or a year? There likely will need to be proof of some sort (it’s been many years since I divorced so I don’t remember what I was required to provide, sorry).

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