How long does a couple need to be separated to be considered divorced? 34 Answers as of September 12, 2011

I have been separated from my husband for four years. We do not keep any contact, but we never just went though the divorce process. We are legally separated. At one point, does our separation turn into a divorce? What do we need to do to get this finalized?

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Law Office of Karen A. Clark, L.L.C.
Law Office of Karen A. Clark, L.L.C. | Karen A. Clark
To the best of my knowledge, a separation without going through the legal process of dissolution cannot just be converted into a divorce. Please note that a physical separation is not the same thing as a legal separation. To begin the dissolution proceeding, you must file a petition for dissolution and serve notice upon your spouse. Your dissolution can be completed after 91 days. The signature or consent of your spouse is unnecessary.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 9/12/2011
Law Offices of Paul A. Eads, A.P.C.
Law Offices of Paul A. Eads, A.P.C. | Paul A. Eads
File a divorce petition.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 9/12/2011
Gregory T. Buckley, Attorney at Law
Gregory T. Buckley, Attorney at Law | Gregory T. Buckley
Florida does not recognize the concept of legal separation. There is no minimumseparation requirement. To get divorced, you will need to file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 9/7/2011
Beresford Booth PLLC
Beresford Booth PLLC | S. Scott Burkhalter
You will still need to go through the divorce process.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 9/2/2011
Horizons Law Group, LLC
Horizons Law Group, LLC | Michelle B. Fitzgerald
You will need to file for divorce. The length of separation does not matter.
Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
Replied: 8/31/2011
    Meriwether & Tharp LLC
    Meriwether & Tharp LLC | Patrick Meriwether
    In Georgia, until you have an Final Judgment of Divorce from a Superior Court, you are still married. There is no separation period required to file for a divorce in Georgia.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/31/2011
    The Law Office of Erin Farley
    The Law Office of Erin Farley | Erin Farley
    No, you remain married until a judgment of dissolution has been filed. To finalize the process, you need to begin the process by filing a Petition for Dissolution. The local family law facilitator or an attorney can guide you through the process. Another great resource in California is the California court website's self-help tab.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/30/2011
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    You need to convert the legal separation that you obtained in court to a divorce.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 8/30/2011
    Michael D. Fluke, P.A.
    Michael D. Fluke, P.A. | Michael D. Fluke
    Separation never turns into divorce and if you live in Florida, there is no such thing as a legal separation although you may enter into a written separation agreement. I suggest you consult an experienced Family Law attorney to discuss your case in greater detail and learn all of your rights and options.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/30/2011
    Law Office of Michael W. Bugni
    Law Office of Michael W. Bugni | Jay W. Neff
    You are not divorced until the court says you're divorced. That means that unless you take appropriate affirmative action, you are never divorced. In terms of how long it will take you to get the court to sign a decree of divorce, the answer is: It depends. If all that the two of you have done so far is to physically separate, then, you would have to file a divorce case with the court. If you have an agreement on all issues, you would then have to prepare a proposed set of final papers that you would both sign off on. Finally, 90 days after the case was filed, you could ask the court to enter the final papers and sign the divorce decree. If, on the other hand, you have already gone through a formal "legal" separation, then, when you can be divorced will depend on when the decree of legal separation was entered. The statute says that any time more than 6 months after the entry of a decree of legal separation, it may be converted into a decree of divorce by a simple motion to the court. For example, if the court entered a decree of legal separation in your case on March 1, 2011, six months later is September 1, 2011. This means that any time after September 1, you could file a motion to convert the decree of legal separation into a decree of divorce.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/30/2011
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    If by "legally separated" you mean that a Colorado court entered a Decree of Legal Separation, either one of you can ask that court to convert the Legal Separation into a Dissolution of Marriage. It doesn't require consent by both parties, but someone has to ask the court to do it and the other person must be provided notice. There is no such thing as an "illegal" separation, so if there has never been a court action to establish a Legal Separation, you are simply "separated" but still married and need to go through the motions of a complete divorce. You will remain "legally married" until a court issues an order dissolving the marriage.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 8/30/2011
    Dunnings Law Firm
    Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
    There exists no requirement for separation prior to filing for divorce in Michigan. You need to file a complaint and other paper work and pay a filing fee with the Circuit court where you reside to start the process. You should confer with an attorney to get more detailed information.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/30/2011
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC | Vincent J. Bernabei
    A divorce can only be obtained through court.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 8/30/2011
    Lewis, Pfanstiel & Williams, PCLO
    Lewis, Pfanstiel & Williams, PCLO | Ryan J. Lewis
    You will have to file for divorce to make it final.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 8/30/2011
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
    There is no such thing as common law divorce. Accordingly you can remain separated as long as you want, you are still married. The only way to divorce is to file a petition for divorce, and get a judicial decree of divorce.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 8/30/2011
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller | Jody A. Miller
    Under Georgia law, there is no such thing as a "legal separation"; so unless you received a legal separation from another state in which legal separation is valid, then you are not legally separated and you are still married. A separation does not "turn into" a divorce. You need to contact an attorney to prepare what will hopefully be uncontested divorce documents, sign them, file them with the court, and have a judge sign a final decree of divorce.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/30/2011
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A.
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A. | Robert F. Davies, Esq.
    You are not divorced under New Jersey law until a Judge signs a divorce judgment terminating the marriage.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 8/30/2011
    Elizabeth Jones, A Professional Corporation
    Elizabeth Jones, A Professional Corporation | Elizabeth Jones
    You will not ever be divorced by just the simple passage of time. You must file a summons and petition for divorce, exchange Schedule if Assets and Debts and Income and Expense Declaration with your spouse, wait six months and file a judgment that contains a fair and equitable division of community property and a Parenting Plan for any minor children.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/30/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    You are not divorced unless and until a court enters a decree of divorce. The amount of time the parties are separated is irrelevant.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 8/30/2011
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock | Arlene D. Kock
    A legal separation requires a petition filed with the court for that relief and a judgment ordering that you are legally separated. If you have done nothing but cease living together, you are still married to one another. If you did formally file for legal separation and no judgment completing the action was perfected, then you might convert that to a divorce action and seek a final divorce judgement. Best to meet with a skilled family law attorney to explore your legal options.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/30/2011
    The Coyle Law Office
    The Coyle Law Office | T. Andrew Coyle
    There is no timeframe whereby a separation becomes a divorce. You must file paperwork in court to be considered divorced. At this point, you would be able to get a 'no fault' divorce even if your husband does not want to cooperate. You can speak with a clerk at the courthouse or a divorce attorney to get the specifics on what you need to file.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 8/30/2011
    Willick Law Group
    Willick Law Group | Marshal S. Willick
    Nevada has no waiting periods. And no, you are physically, not legally, separated. You should consult with ualified family law counsel.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 8/30/2011
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    If you are "legally separated," meaning a Washington court has issued a decree of separation. Either one of you can convert that to a dissolution of marriage (divorce). It never happens automatically no matter how long you are separated.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/30/2011
    Law Office of Roianne H. Conner
    Law Office of Roianne H. Conner | Roianne Houlton Conner
    You will have to file for a divorce. There is no point that a legal separation becomes a divorce.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 8/30/2011
    Hugo Florido ESQ.
    Hugo Florido ESQ. | Hugo Florido
    No, in the State of Florida there is no specific time period of separation that creates a divorce. You must file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage to initiate that process. You are not technically divorce until a Judge sign a Order dissolving your marriage.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/30/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    You should retain a divorce attorney ASAP. One does not simply wake up divorced. One must file for a divorce and obtain a divorce decree in Georgia. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/30/2011
    Law & Mediation Office of Jeffrey L. Pollock, Esq.
    Law & Mediation Office of Jeffrey L. Pollock, Esq. | Jeffrey Lawrence Pollock
    There is no automatic divorce due to length of separation. You need to file the requisite court pleadings and get a court-ordered divorce decree.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 8/30/2011
    Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A.
    Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A. | Joanna Mitchell
    You need to file for divorce and have a judge dissolve the marriage. It doesn't matter if you've been separated for 4 years or 24 years, you are still, technically, legally married.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/30/2011
    Michael Apicella
    Michael Apicella | Apicella Law and Mediation
    In California, a legal separation does not magically turn into a divorce over time, simply by the lapse of time. If you want to get a judgment of dissolution, then one of the spouses needs to complete the steps with the court. One cannot answer what steps still need to be taken, as your question does not contain enough facts regarding what steps have already been completed. Best to call a local family law lawyer to assist. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/30/2011
    The English Law Firm
    The English Law Firm | Robert English
    You are not "legally separated" unless you filed a petition for a legal separation, you are merely separated. You will not be divorced unless you file a petition for dissolution of marriage. Nothing will happen otherwise and you will remain married.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/30/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    Separations NEVER turn into divorces. To get a divorce, you hire a lawyer, file for divorce, and go from there.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/30/2011
    Donaldson Stewart, PC
    Donaldson Stewart, PC | Monica H. Donaldson Stewart
    You are not "legally separated" unless you filed a Petition for Legal Separation and were granted a Decree of Legal Separation. Whether you are truly legally separated or just physically separated (living apart with no court orders), it will never "turn into a divorce" - you must file a Petition for Dissolution, proceed with the steps, and be granted a Decree of Dissolution.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 8/30/2011
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