Legal Separation

U.S. Divorce Law Center





Legal Separation Laws in the U.S. Copyright HG.org

Legal Separation

A legal separation and a physical separation are not the same thing. In a physical separation, although the couple lives separately, there is no formal legal agreement.

A legal separation allows a husband and wife to live separately and formalize the arrangement by a court order or a written agreement. The arrangement addresses spousal support, and child custody, visitation and support, when relevant.

It is not equivalent to a divorce or dissolution and recognizes the possibility that the couple may reunite. It does not terminate a marriage, and so, does not allow the parties to remarry.

It is not necessary to be legally separated before obtaining a divorce. Although, most states have provisions for legally separated couples to commute their separation agreement to a divorce action, should they decide to do so.

Not all states recognize legal separations.

Legal Separation Laws by State

Laws governing Legal Separation vary from state to state and some states do not recognize it. The following links provide general overviews of individual states' legal separation laws, where applicable.

Legal Separation Law Articles

  • Dividing Real Property in Divorce
    The most valuable asset in many divorce cases is the marital home. The disposition of this asset can have a significant impact on the financial health of the parties after divorce. Additionally, special considerations must be given to other pieces of real property that the couple owns. There are several options in determining how to deal with real estate in a divorce case. However, there are certain steps that must be taken before considering what is the best solution.
  • Question and Answer: Liability of Debts
    Question: My wife and I are not currently living together. Is my wife legally responsible for the bills? The answer to this question depends on a number of factors, namely the state laws where you live and whether there are any agreements pertaining to debts accumulated during the marriage.
  • Who Is Legally Responsible for Bills When Spouses Are Not Living Together?
    When spouses are not living together, it can be difficult to determine which spouse is legally responsible to pay debts. The timing of when the debt was incurred, the nature of the debt and state law are important considerations in this assessment.
  • Where Goes the House in a Divorce?
    The home that the family lived in during the marriage is often the most valuable asset that a couple owns. Therefore, this asset may receive much attention during the divorce proceedings. What happens to a house after divorce depends on state laws, circumstances involving the house and the parties’ actions.
  • Divorce and How it Affects 401(K) Plans and Retirement Funds
    401K and retirement, along with any other type of savings benefit or pension program that us meant for retirement, are all considered to potentially be marital assets, according to Florida law.
  • How to Get a Divorce Without Losing Your Life’s Savings
    Many people want to get divorced, but put off filing paperwork due to the costs associated. However, there are other ways to handle a divorce.
  • What is Separation in PA and Why Does it Matter?
    Pennsylvania does not have “legal separation” as the term is used in some other states. Separation simply means that spouses are either living in separate physical residences or that one spouse has filed a divorce complaint with the court and served it on the other spouse.
  • Enforcing Grandparent Visitation Orders
    The negative effect divorce often has on relationships sometimes goes beyond the spouses and their children.
  • Proposed Legislation Effects Custody and Child Support Laws
    When there are children involved in a divorce, custody and how much child support is allocated are often important and provocative issues.
  • Hostile Child Custody Dispute
    A battle ensued for 34 days in a Toronto courtroom over whether or not to allow a three year old boy to spend nights in his father’s home.

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