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Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith: Separated or Living Apart Together?

By Catherine Hodder, Esq. | Last updated on

Hollywood actor and Red Table Talk host Jada Pinkett Smith and her husband Will Smith, best actor for "King Richard," are trending in the news again. This time, it has nothing to do with when Smith slapped Oscar host Chris Rock for using his wife's name in jokes about hair loss during the 2022 Academy Awards.

In an upcoming NBC News interview with Hoda Kotb, Jada Pinkett Smith revealed that she and Will Smith have been separated since 2016 and are living separate lives.

Pinkett-Smith wed Will Smith in 1997 after meeting him on the set of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Together, they have two children, Willow and Jaden Smith. Smith has a son, Trey, from a prior marriage to Sheree Zampino. They have had their share of headlines, with Pinkett Smith admitting to an “entanglement" with singer August Alsina.

Although they lead separate lives, the Today show reported that they do not have plans for a legal divorce. But does this mean they are living apart together? Or is Will Smith looking for his "Pursuit of Happyness" without any ties to Jada?

What Is Living Apart Together?

Living apart together is when couples stay in a relationship but live in separate residences. The reasons vary from having to work in different geographic areas to wanting to maintain independence yet keep a relationship.

What To Consider When Living Apart Together?

Among logistics and finances, a significant concern should be estate planning issues. Estate planning means planning for you or your significant other's incapacity or death. Consider what would happen if you or your loved one had a sudden severe illness, hospitalization, or incapacity. Would you want to have the other handle your medical and financial decisions?

  • health care power of attorney or health care directive is a legal document in which you can name someone to access your medical records and make your medical decisions if you can't, such as being unconscious or in a coma. Within the health care directive, you can specify your wishes for life-sustaining or life-prolonging treatment when you have a terminal condition from which you will not recover.
  • financial power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to name an agent or attorney-in-fact to pay bills, access your bank accounts, and handle your finances if you cannot do so due to an extended illness or can't manage your finances yourself. Some use a financial power of attorney for convenience, such as frequent travelers who can't always be home to handle their financial life. The person you name as your agent should be someone you trust. However, they have a fiduciary duty to act in your best interests, or they could be subject to civil or criminal charges.

What Is Legal Separation?

Additionally, sometimes separation leads to divorce, and the required separation period, if any, begins. Some states require a separation period of six months to two years. However, in California, residents do not have to separate for any period of time before filing for divorce.

A couple may file for legal separation, which is different than divorce. Legal separation means a couple remains married, keeps on each other's benefit plans, and files taxes together if they wish, but they live separate lives.

Because living apart together among married couples may create legal issues, a family law or divorce attorney may help guide couples through it.

But living apart together can mean different things to different people. And it is unclear what it means for the Smiths. One thing for certain is that we will keep reading about Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, especially as she has her new book “Worthy" to promote.

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