Yes, you can live separated and not divorced. The law does not say you should divorce if you plan to separate permanently.
It is generally advisable to divorce rather than remain separated for an indefinite period because of following reasons:
- You cannot remarry without first obtaining a divorce order
- Staying married affects your rights and obligations regarding property and financial matters
- If your spouse is getting into debt you might be getting into debt too without even knowing it
- You may lose control over the management of some jointly owned assets but you will still have duties and obligations about those assets
- Your spouse may find a new partner and start a new family. This will cause more expenses for the new family and therefore less assets left for property settlement with you
- Your spouse may dispose or hide some assets of the marriage so less assets will be available when it finally comes time to negotiate the terms of your property settlement
- If your spouse’s circumstances change after a long separation your final settlement could be a lot less. Loss of employment, sickness and care of children are only some examples that may affect your property settlement outcome.
- You may lose track of the location of your spouse and lose an opportunity to negotiate a divorce settlement. Instead, you may be left with no option but to seek a determination by the court which may be more expensive
- It may be more difficult to negotiate a divorce agreement with your spouse after a long separation
- In property settlement proceedings the court will assess the future needs of the parties and will consider the standard of living reasonable in the circumstances. Your circumstances might be different after a long separation than soon after separation.
Suggested way forward
Beware of the risks of long separation. Seek advice from a family lawyer about your particular circumstances.