Divorce Guide

Divorce Guide

Does a married couple have to live apart to get a divorce?

Does a married couple have to live apart to get a divorce is an very important question.

Yes, a married couple has to live separately to get a divorce. It is not a compulsory condition, but it helps getting divorce easily. It gives more validity to the divorce in case the two plaintiffs have a separate address. It helps more in case of contested divorce cases.

In many states, the law requires the couple to stay separately for a certain period before granting a divorce. This separation period is termed as cooling off time wherein both the parties can do some serious thinking.

In certain states, if you are filing for a no fault divorce, you need to be separated for a certain time. This is trial separation. It is like testing the arrangement of living separately for a while before a decision to stay together or getting a divorce is made. This separation is informal and not court ordered. Trial separation lasts for a few months, weeks to several days. The intention behind such separation is limited and no decisions about property, child support, spousal support, etc are decided. Many trial separations result in reconciliation and there is no separation in the case.

In trial separation, one of the partner is staying with friends or family until both of them decide to take some decision. Any debt or property is jointly owned.

In such separations, the couple may live apart, still have joint lives for most part, and not divide anything. They may have joint checking accounts, credit cards, etc. you will have to see the laws in your state for trial separation regarding debts and property.

In case you want to be classed to be separated you can be separated even when you stay under one roof. In this case you should arrange household such that you no longer sleep and eat together. Do not do domestic chores together like ironing, washing, cooking, etc.


If one of the spouses have deserted the other for more than two years it is called as desertation and it can be used as a ground for getting divorce. In this case, desertation means, leaving the spouse without consent and without a good reason.

Two years separation:

In case the spouses are living separate for two or more years and the spouse consents to divorce. This kind of divorce is called as no fault divorce. The spouses may have some periods of living together and t should not add more than six months. It should also be followed by living apart for at least two years altogether.

Five years of separation:

The couple must have stayed separately for more than five years and in such cases the spouses may not need to agree for the divorce. The spouse cannot defend this petition but may request the court to refrain from granting the final decree as there may be a major financial or other thing involved.

You should check the laws in your state regarding divorce and separation. The period for separation to be taken as a ground for divorce may vary according to the state you live in.

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