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What does living “separate and apart” mean in Pennsylvania?

On Behalf of | Oct 11, 2021 | Divorce |

You and your spouse agree that your marriage isn’t working. You’d like to keep your split as amicable as possible and file for a dissolution of your marriage based on the irretrievable breakdown of your union.

The only problem is that you know that under Pennsylvania law, you and your spouse are required to live “separate and apart” for at least one year — and neither of you can currently afford to move.

Are you stuck in your marriage simply because of economics?

Not at all — nor is your situation unusual. Pennsylvania has had its fair share of economic ups and downs, and the courts have come to recognize that couples sometimes continue sharing space under one roof long after their relationship is effectively over.

Living “separate and apart” in our state doesn’t have to mean that you and your spouse are keeping totally different residences. Instead, it merely means that at least one spouse has communicated their intent to no longer live as a married couple to the other in clear and unambiguous terms.

To establish that you and your spouse have lived “separate and apart” for a year, the court may ask you certain questions, like:

  • When you ceased sharing a bedroom
  • When you ceased having intimate relations
  • When you stopped sharing meals
  • When you separated your finances
  • When you began living independent lives
  • Whether you have made your status clear to others in your social circle

It’s important that you and your spouse agree on these issues if you want to avoid a legal battle. The date that you began living separate and apart can have a significant effect on your property settlement in the divorce.