How long do I have to wait before I can get divorced? If I separate from my spouse, do I have to divorce?

If I separate from my spouse, do I have to divorce? Some people want to get divorced as soon as possible, for symbolic or personal reasons. One symbolic value served by initiating a divorce is to show your spouse (especially if the spouse left you) that you are in control of your life, and you are taking steps toward greater independence. One personal ground for going forward with the divorce is to become eligible for remarriage. If, on the other hand, neither husband or wife wants to go through the formal steps of obtaining an absolute divorce, there is no requirement that either party does so. This is true no matter whether the parties have been separated just over a year or for many years. One potential disadvantage to getting a divorce is that a spouse will no longer be continued indefinitely as a dependent on an employed spouse’s group health insurance policy. Under present federal law, the continued coverage is only guaranteed for another thirty-six months at most following divorce.

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