The terms and requirements for getting a divorce vary by state, and in Pennsylvania, many couples see the phrase “separate and apart” in section 3103 of the Pennsylvania Code and find it confusing.
The law states:
"Separate and apart." Cessation of cohabitation, whether living in the same residence or not. In the event a complaint in divorce is filed and served, it shall be presumed that the parties commenced to live separate and apart not later than the date that the complaint was served.
For some couples, living apart during their divorce may not be financially feasible. So, when the law says couples must live separate and apart to get a divorce, it can be frustrating. The government realizes that some couples may not be in a position to find alternative living conditions, so couples seeking an uncontested divorce in Pennsylvania can remain under the same roof if they follow the required guidelines. For the purposes of satisfying the legal requirement for divorce in Pennsylvania, separate and apart means the couple must cease to cohabitate as a couple. Non-cohabitating couples are those who agree they will stop fulfilling the role of husband or wife to their spouse. The separated means that the couple ceases from the date recorded to living as a married couple. You can be separated and live in the same home, but you have to be intentional about maintaining separate lives.
How to Maintain Separate Lives While Living Together and Separated
Living separate and apart while you are sharing a residence can be difficult for many couples, and it can be especially difficult for couples seeking an uncontested divorce. If you and your spouse mutually agree on the divorce and you’re on good terms, it can be easy to fall back into comfortable routines. It’s important that you begin creating boundaries and documenting how your lives are no longer linked.
The court will ask questions like these when reviewing your separation:
- Have spouses stopped sharing a bedroom?
- Do spouses share meals?
- When did the separation begin?
- Do the spouses still have an intimate relationship?
- Are the spouses sharing their finances?
- Are the spouses living independent lives?
- Are friends and family aware your relationship status has changed?
- Are the spouses still wearing wedding rings?
It can be difficult to create these boundaries while still sharing a home. If you have children, there are typically allowances made for family activities and outings done for children, like school events and meetings. It’s important to have an official date of separate or living apart. This date will be critical when completing the property division phase of your divorce. The court may have questions about why you have chosen to live together instead of living separately. You should be prepared to answer these questions honestly and thoroughly.
Why Detailing and Maintaining Your Separate Lives is Important
The property division phase of your divorce can be challenging if you and your spouse aren’t on the same page about assets and debts. It’s vitally important to document when your separation began because this is that date that will be used for most of your divorce documentation. The court will also use this date to determine how soon your divorce will be processed.
To finalize your Pennsylvania uncontested divorce, you must:
- Complete an affidavit verifying you have no contested issues in your divorce
- Spouses must have lived separate and apart for a year
- The marriage must be irrevocably broken
If you don’t document and adhere to a strict separation, it could derail your divorce. So, maintaining and detailing your separate life during your separation is important. Contact Cairns Law Group for more information about an uncontested divorce today at (888) 863-9115, or submit an online contact form.