To begin the divorce process, you must first be separated from your spouse. Separation is when two people who are married to each other – called ‘spouses’ – no longer consider themselves to be together as a couple. Usually, when married couples separate, they no longer live in the same home. But, you do not necessarily have to be living in two separate homes to be separated. Sometimes, a separated couple will still live in the same home, but will have separate areas for sleeping, and will not share in daily activities together, like meals. This can happen because of childcare or money issues. Whether or not you are considered to be separated in this situation will depend on all of the facts of your case.
A divorce does not happen automatically, no matter how long you are separated from your spouse.
Usually, you cannot file for divorce until you have been separated from your spouse for one year. You don’t have to ‘prove’ your separation date to the court, AS LONG AS both spouses agree to the separation date.
You do not have to file any paperwork with the court to be separated, but you do need to file paperwork with the court to get divorced! If you and your spouse choose, you can get a separation agreement put in place between the two of you any time after you separate. If you can’t agree on the terms of your separation agreement, one of you can file an application with the court to get an order to deal with issues like parenting arrangements or financial support. You don’t have to do either of these things, though. These things will not affect your ability to file for divorce when the time comes. You do not apply to the court to be separated.
You are not required to have a separation agreement. You can still apply to get divorced from your spouse, even if you’ve never had a separation agreement.