In the third and final installment of my article regarding separation and its impact, i discuss how to separate
So how do you show you're separated, you ask?
Well, what is separation can be very tricky. It is a fact specific determination that is not terribly well defined. The rule is that you "stop living in a husband and wife-like manner." (The quote is old. This works the same way for same sex couples now that same sex marriages are recognized in PA.)
What is a Husband and Wife like Manner?
Whether you "are living in a husband and wife-like manner" is very specific to an individual couple, as you look at how your lives have changed since the alleged separation date. The most important fact, though, is did you both know you were separating? If you move to another state to get your master's degree, and a year in decide you want a divorce, you didn't separate when you moved for school because neither one of you knew you were separating at that point. If you have this epiphany a year in, but don't tell your spouse for another year, guess what, you just now separated (two years after you moved) because you didn't realize you were separating when you moved there, and while your feelings may have changed a year earlier, you didn't tell your spouse that until now. Everyone in the relationship must be on notice that the relationship is ending. Notice can be verbal or in writing.
Is there a presumptive date of separation?
Under law, the date of filing a divorce is a presumptive date of separation, but either party can present evidence they separated earlier or later if things move forward in court. That's were a written notice of separation can come in handy. However, actions speak louder than words. If you say "separation" but keep acting like spouses, well, then you might not have separated. The words themselves aren't magic and the Court will look at what you have been up to since you said them.
Nonetheless, nothing is getting done over one side's objection until the two year waiting period has been met. If you are thinking about separating from your spouse, I highly recommend that you speak to an attorney to know your rights and obligations in the event of a separation within or outside of the home, and how to go about letting the other side know that you are, in fact, separating. As I always point out, separation--even the very beginnings of separation--can impact every single aspect of your life, will impact you legally, financially and emotionally. It is important to get the correct information to know what to expect. Consider speaking with a counselor, either individually or as a couple, before facing these changes. Be sure of your feelings. Once you are sure of your feelings (or at least pretty sure) talk to a lawyer to get some idea of what to expect from separation and/or divorce. If you found this helpful, please share so that others can, too!
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