If you do not qualify for a fault-based divorce as described above, you will have to file for a divorce based on 1 year separation. This means the spouses must live apart for 365 days in order to have a final divorce. This means that the parties may NOT live in the same home, nor engage in sexual intercourse.

Each time you “reconcile,” with your spouse, the time required for separation begins again. What does that mean? Did your partner move back for a couple days while you tried to work it out? That starts the clock over. Did you have sex over the weekend despite living apart? That could start the clock over.

If your situation is tumultuous, and you feel you need rules in place while you wait for your 1 year countdown to run, consider filing for separate support and maintenance. In this scenario, you have a temporary hearing (extra $25 fee applies) and the Judge will give you an Order setting forth rules for both parties to follow. While this is not a “divorce” filing, it can be converted into a divorce at the final hearing stage. We highly recommend you consult with an attorney if you want to pursue this option.

If you’ve already lived apart for 1 year, the process will move faster for you, as you don’t have to wait.