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Divorce Advice: When Are You Separated?

In our previous post, we discussed why an individual seeking a divorce could file on the grounds of either two or five-year separation. With few resources stating the circumstances under which a married couple are officially deemed to be separated, however, it is in no way surprising that many of the people that contact us for advice query whether they and their spouse are officially living separately and, if they are, how to identify the date on which they and their spouse began living separate lives. Fortunately, Quickie Divorce are here to clear up any confusion.

The query most frequently levelled at our advisers with regards to this matter concerns the certification required to prove that a couple are separated. Whilst this no-doubt stems from the existence of what are known as Separation Agreements, we can confirm that there is no formal procedure to follow or documentation to be obtained in order for a couple to be recognised as legally separated. In fact, when a couple do file for a divorce, the court will not require proof of the fact that the couple have separated or when they separated unless either is challenged by the Respondent.

Another common query is how to determine precisely when a couple separate. Many assume that this occurs when they begin living in different homes and, whilst this, too, is understandable, it is not the case. There are, of course, instances in which spouses separate and one party – or possibly both – immediately leaves the family home but, with the cost of both property and rent continuing to rise and wages largely still stagnant, this is becoming increasingly rare. More commonly, both spouses will remain in the marital home but will no longer share it, maintain only the part of the property within which they reside and sleep in separate bedrooms. When such circumstances apply, a couple will be considered to be living separate lives and are therefore separated from the moment that such arrangements commence. Also noteworthy is the fact that a couple are not required to have been living separately for any period of time before they are eligible for a divorce though, of course, they will only be able to file immediately following them having separated if they do so on the grounds of either adultery or unreasonable behaviour.

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