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Can I still get divorced after being separated for over ten years?

If you and your spouse have been legally separated for a long period of time, you might want to know what rights you have. Are you and your spouse still legally married? What would happen if you tried to marry another person? Can you still divorce your spouse even if you haven’t seen them in a long period of time?

The answers to all of these questions vary widely depending on the circumstances. Additionally, the laws about divorce and legal separation are slightly different in each state. Some states don’t allow legal separation at all.

There are a number of different details to consider when wondering about your rights after a long period of separation.

Informally Separated

Separations aren’t always done through a court agreement. An informal separation is one way couples may choose to stop living together. When a couple separates informally, the court isn’t involved. There are no legally binding terms for their conduct, finances, or custody arrangements of any children. The most documentation there is might be a written agreement signed by your spouse and you.

If your separation is informal, there are no barriers holding you back from getting a divorce. To begin the divorce proceedings, all you need to do is file appropriate paperwork in the appropriate jurisdiction. Your best bet is to have an experienced divorce attorney help you through the process. They can make sure all protocols are followed and that the divorce is negotiated fairly.

Legally Separated

Legal separation occurs when the court defines the terms of the separation. The couple’s finances, custody arrangements, and other details are worked out in this agreement. With a legal separation, if one party violates the terms of the agreement, there will be legal consequences.

Legally separated people are also free to pursue divorces, regardless of whether it’s been a decade. Two options may be available depending on your state’s laws.

Some states let you convert your current separation into a divorce. This means that your current separation terms will form the groundwork of your divorce case. You’ll need to file specific documents to convert the case from separation to divorce.

Other states don’t allow the conversion of a separation into divorce. Instead, you need to file a separate divorce case. Again, you should have an experienced attorney who can walk you through all the steps necessary to a successful divorce proceeding.

Limited Term of Separation

There are some states whose legal separation laws include a time period. Once the separation time period is up, the couple must either pursue a divorce, or the legal separation agreement will be terminated. One of the most common time frames is two years.

Termination of Marriage

If your legal separation has been held in place for ten years, you might have only one step available to you. The marriage must be terminated. Any issues related to your marriage were probably addressed during the initial separation proceedings. The paperwork for your separation agreement will make it easier to settle your divorce.

Keep in mind that proceeding with a divorce case requires filing a lot of paperwork in the correct amounts of time. Divorce lawyers can help make sure all the forms are filled out and brought to the appropriate places.

Retaining Counsel

Every marriage is unique. Every couple has their own dynamic, private struggles, and way of communicating. No two divorces or separations will ever look exactly the same. But no matter what’s led up to your divorce, you need a divorce attorney to guide you through the legal process. Retaining counsel early means you’ll have a lawyer available if anything goes wrong; for example, if your estranged spouse becomes belligerent.

When you have your initial consultation with the lawyer, they’ll review the facts of your case. They’ll explain the options available to you, from divorce alternatives to ways of moving forward with a divorce. If you have any questions about the legal implications of your circumstances, the lawyer will be able to answer them. Divorce lawyers don’t generally charge a fee to have a basic consultation. You’ll only pay them if you decide to keep them on as your counsel.

Negotiating an Agreement

If you and your spouse have spent ten years apart, you’re probably near-strangers to each other. You might try communicating with them directly. However, if there are hostile feelings, you can have your lawyer communicate directly with your spouse’s lawyer. This helps to smooth the negotiation process.

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