Five years ago, your spouse moved out. You had been married for two years — but they were not good years. Your spouse traveled a lot for work. One day, they just called and said that they weren’t coming back home — not now, and maybe never.
You didn’t mind. You also wanted to end the marriage, but hadn’t taken any steps to do it yet. Since then, you’ve moved on with your life and you don’t even think of yourself as being married.
But are you? Can a relationship ever formally end automatically? What if you don’t see each other for 10 years? Could you then be considered divorced?
Sorry, but you are still married
To put it simply, you are still married and will stay married until either one of you files for divorce because divorce never occurs automatically. Some people assume it does and may call it a “common law divorce,” but the reality is that any married couple has to officially file for divorce for the marriage to be dissolved. Just living separately is not going to do it, no matter how long you remain apart.
That said, you may find that living apart makes divorce easier because it’s clear to the court that you don’t want to be married and are no longer sharing assets. It’s even easier if you don’t have children. In your case, many of the things over which most couples haggle during divorce have already been decided.
So, while you do need to take some legal steps to end your marriage, they may be easier than you anticipate. This could speed up the divorce process considerably. You just need to know which steps to take and understand what options you have.