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Some individuals march straight to the courthouse when profound marital problems begin to occur. Other couples elect to separate. In some cases, those periods of separation continue not just for months, but for years. You may be a person who separated from your spouse for an extended period of time. Specifically, you may now wonder whether you can obtain a divorce after being separated from your spouse for over a decade.
Separation, Legal Separation and Divorce
Before you can fully understand timeframes for divorce, you need to appreciate the difference between separation, legal separation and divorce. A separation is an informal arrangement between a married couple. They elect on their own volition to live apart. They do not have a court order delineating the terms and conditions of a separation.
In the case of a legal separation, there is a court proceeding. In fact, a legal separation, a court often addresses all issues raised in a divorce case but one. In a legal separation, a marriage is not terminated by order of the court. A divorce case resolves all marital issues between the parties, and results in a termination of the marriage.
Timeframe for Divorce
All states have a law on the books dealing with timeframes and filing for divorce. The most common of these laws requires a person to reside in a certain jurisdiction for a set period of time before they can seek a divorce. Some states require longer periods of time than do others.
Some states do have laws that require a couple to be separated for a set period of time before they can file a divorce complaint or petition. Typically this type of requirement is associated with a divorce case alleging abandonment or irreconcilable differences.
There is no law on the books in any state that sets a separation time period that is too long that it precludes a divorce. In other words, the fact that you and your spouse have been separated and lived a part for 10 years does not prevent you from pursuing a divorce.
If you have been legally separated from your spouse for a decade odds are that very little more needs to be done to obtain a divorce. There already exists a court order addressing issues like finances, child custody and so forth. In reality, all that may remain to be done is the termination of a marriage and the possible restoration of a prior name of one of the parties, if so desired.
If the separation during this time period was informal, there still may be very little left to do. You and your spouse likely have worked a great deal out between the two of you during that time period. Matters just need to be formalized with the court and the marriage officially terminated via a divorce decree.
An experienced NY divorce lawyer can assist you in undertaking the steps necessary to terminate a marriage after a decade of separation from your spouse. A divorce lawyer typically charges no fee for an initial consultation with a prospective client.