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What Is the Statute Of Limitations for Divorce?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 April 2014
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The statute of limitations for divorce may be critical to obtaining a divorce or enforcing divorce terms. A statute of limitations is a legal term that describes the period of time in which a person has an actionable case; after the statute of limitations has passed, a person usually cannot sue for damages even if a provable violation occurred. Every region has its own laws and regulations as to the divorce statute of limitations, making it crucial to understand all limitation laws before pursuing a lawsuit against a spouse or former spouse.

In areas that have fault divorce laws, the statute of limitations for divorce may play an important part in a divorce request. If a person knew his or her spouse had an affair and did not try to divorce until 20 years later, a judge might reasonably question whether the infidelity caused the divorce. The statute of limitations in fault divorce areas are meant to be common sense laws; if a person was content enough to live with the situation for many years, he or she may not have a legal right to bring it up in court and ask for damages or a favorable division of assets.

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No-fault divorce regions tend to have fewer issues with statutes of limitations for divorce. Since the courts in these jurisdictions are not concerned with the reason for the divorce, issues such as infidelity are rarely even brought into a legal divorce case. If a person is getting a divorce due to physical abuse, he or she may be able to sue or request criminal charges against an abusive partner, but this will be a separate case from the divorce. In addition, there are statutes of limitations for domestic abuse cases as well.

In terms of divorce settlements, statutes of limitations for divorce may also apply. If a person agrees in the divorce settlement to pay off all the credit debt incurred during the marriage, he or she may be legally bound to do so. If he or she refuses to make the payments, the ex-spouse may be able to sue for credit damage and contempt of court, as long as the case is brought within the statute of limitations. Once the regional statute expires, the ex-spouse may have no legal recourse.

It is important to find out if the statute of limitations for divorce in the applicable reason take the discovery rule into account. The discovery rule is a common law concept that states that the statute of limitations begins when the crime or misconduct is discovered, not when it first occurred. For instance, if a wife has been having an affair and tells her husband after ten years, the statute of limitations begins on the date the husband finds out, not at the beginning of the affair. Since indiscretions can be hidden for decades, using the discovery rule may be vital to a favorable divorce or settlement.

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Discuss this Article

anon923864
Post 7

My wife filed for divorce eight years ago in Scotland and never went through with it. She's the pursuer so I can't file for divorce now. She likes this tiny bit of control. Is there a statute of limitations on her application?

anon357187
Post 6

I live in Florida and she lives in Pennsylvania. We have been separated for 26 years. I thought she filed a divorce and she thought the same, but technically we are still married. I would like to clear this up.

anon355270
Post 5

@CalyRC: Your situation sounds similar to mine. My ex-husband cheated me out of my community property interest in his business, though not the house. I was mentally incapacitated at the time he convinced me to sign a separation agreement, signing away my rights to his business.

My divorce was final in 2005, too. I'm not sure we can do anything about this unless there is new information that's come to light. I've been trying to get an attorney to take my case, with no luck. My ex never gave me proper documentation about his income when we signed the separation agreement. Like your ex, he handled the finances, taxes, etc. He drafted the separation agreement himself, and I was too sick to get an attorney.

freedom65
Post 3

I have been trying to get a divorce from my wife for over seven years. At one point, after a year of our separation, a judge had said that I had to pay six months of car insurance, which I was willing to do, but she wasn't satisfied and wanted more so wouldn't sign the divorce papers.

Since that was six years ago, is there a statute of limitations on the judge's decision on the six months car insurance? Also I have lost complete contact with her and have not seen or spoken to her in years. I have met a wonderful woman whom I want to marry, so I'm trying to find out how to get a divorce without having my wife contest the divorce. I'm still willing to pay the car insurance as well. I just want to move on with my life. We have no kids together, or property.

anon339776
Post 2

I have been trying to get a divorce from my wife for over 7 years. At one point after a year of our separation a judge had said that I had to pay 6 months of car insurance, which I was willing to do, but she wasn't satisfied and wanted more so wouldn't sign the divorce papers. Since that was 6 years ago is there a statue of limitation on the judges decision on the 6 months car insurance? Also I have lost complete contact with her and have not seen or spoken to her in years. I have met a wonderful woman that I want to marry so trying to find out how to get a divorce without having my wife contest the divorce, I'm still willing to pay the car insurance as well just want to move on with my life.

CalyRC
Post 1

I was married to my ex for 20 years, five of those separated (not legally). I didn't ask for anything, but I regret not asking for the house. I ended up tacking on $70,000 to our mortgage, so that he got his half (the house was originally $160,000).

I now want to sue him for the house. I live in CA. Is it too late? We were legally divorced in Aug. 2005. That is the date on divorce decree. One important note: my ex always handled the money. I never knew anything about what we had, etc. He intimidated me, and even went so far as to say he would take half of an inheritance if I tried to get alimony or his retirement. I was extremely naive, gullible and ignorant back then.

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