Is there a statute of limitations defense to a divorce?

Sometimes couples do separate for long periods of time and neither moves toward divorce, but the idea of a statute of limitations does not attach to divorce. Once married, a couple are married until they die or divorce.

If a man leave his wife and twenty years later she decides to sue the grounds of abandonment, the problem is one in law calls forth the doctrine of "laches" (pronounced like "latches"). Basically, this doctrine states that people should not "slumber on their rights"; that unreasonable delay works to the detriment of a party who is not in a position to mount a defense against stale claims.

The totality of the circumstances determines whether laches would apply.