I recently got separated from my wife of twelve years, which has been hard.

Is it clear from this sentence that by "separated" I mean that my wife and I have decided to get divorced and are waiting for it to be completed?

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    No, it is not clear. – Weather Vane Dec 17 '20 at 16:05
  • "From my wife of twelve years"-What do you mean by that? – lee Dec 17 '20 at 16:46
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    @lee It's a perfectly standard way of saying that the couple have been married for twelve years. I think it would be more idiomatic to say "I separated from my wife", because "got separated" implies that you were parted by external circumstances, for instance by losing one another in a crowd. – Kate Bunting Dec 17 '20 at 17:04

Not necessarily.

'Separation' doesn't always lead to divorce, but it does mean that a couple has formally split up. In other countries, the law may differ, but in the UK the current divorce law requires 'fault' for divorce or evidence of separation for a certain length of time (I think it is 3 years). So, divorce proceedings may not begin immediately after a couple separate.

From a grammar point of view - "I recently got separated from" should arguably be "I recently separated from", but people do use the word "separated" the same way as they do "divorced" because 'separation' is the name of a process sometimes called 'legal separation'.


When you use 'got separated' it can mean that you're on the receiving end of the separation. So unless it's the wife that forced the divorce on the husband, don't use this type of phrasing.

But if it's wife who forced the divorce on the husband, and since you're also saying that the divorce had been hard on the husband, 'got separated' fits well.

Now, the statement, I recently got separated from my wife of twelve years, which has been hard, by itself means that you've separated but the divorce isn't done.

If it's the husband who actively filed a divorce, then change the statement to something like this, 'I've recently separated from my wife of twelve years, and it has been hard.'

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    It isn't true that "got separated" means someone else initiated the separation. "I got divorced" doesn't mean the other party filed against you. To express that the other party initiated it, people specify "my wife left me", or "my wife kicked me out", or "my wife wanted to separate". With divorce, they say "I divorced my wife" or "my wife divorced me". – Astralbee Dec 17 '20 at 16:10
  • @Astralbee But it can mean that. Got divorced is a vague thing that can mean either way. – VKBoy Dec 17 '20 at 16:15
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    It can mean either initiated it, so it's misleading and incorrect to say it means one thing in particular. "Got separated from" isn't particularly grammatical - in English we'd just say "separated from" in any other context. It has just become idiomatic that people use "separated" in the same way they use "divorced", and that's why it doesn't necessarily mean what you say in your answer. – Astralbee Dec 17 '20 at 16:19
  • @Astralbee There's a clear difference between 'living apart,' 'legally separated,' and 'divorced,' yet you said in your answer that 'separate' and 'divorce' are used the same way by people sometimes. Even if people do use it, isn't that wrong? Just because they informally use it doesn't make it correct formally, does it? – VKBoy Dec 17 '20 at 16:35
  • @Astralbee: I disagree with the first assertion in your first comment. If I got separated, that would generally mean not of my own volition. A common context being something like I got separated from my wife in the supermarket. It was too crowded to find her again, so I just went out to the car and waited. For my money, to get separated is like to get beaten up (involuntary), not like to get dressed (voluntary) or to get divorced (could go either way). – FumbleFingers Dec 17 '20 at 18:55

Your current statement does not answer the question "Are you planning to get divorced?"

"Got separated" does not make it clear whether you plan to divorce or not. You might choose to stay in a permanent or trial separation without getting divorced.

Separate—if a couple who are married or living together separate, they decide to live apart.

Collins Dictionary

To avoid the follow-up question ("Are you getting divorced?"), you should use:

• "in a trial separation"

• "in a permanent separation"

• "in a legal separation"

Thanks @weather-vane for commenting.

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    There is no mention of divorce in the dictionary definition, and as it does say, they might not be married. – Weather Vane Dec 17 '20 at 16:06
  • @weather-vane The question says "separated from my wife"—so they are married. "Legal separation": Legal separation is a legal process by which a married couple may formalize a de facto separation while remaining legally married. (Wikipedia) What else could this de facto separation be but divorce? – niamulbengali Dec 17 '20 at 16:13
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    It is clear from the OP that they are married, but not that they intend to divorce, or from the meaning of 'separate'. It is not unknown for a couple with children not to divorce, for their sake, but just to live apart. Not my DV. – Weather Vane Dec 17 '20 at 16:16
  • @weather-vane In that case, the OP, intending to live apart without divorcing or legally separating, should use "permanently separated". – niamulbengali Dec 17 '20 at 16:20
  • @weather-vane You were right. I changed the answer. – niamulbengali Dec 17 '20 at 16:29

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