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

  • Can Divorce Papers Be Served Through Facebook?
    When one spouse files for divorce, proper legal service of divorce papers can be complicated when the address of the other spouse is unknown. Newspaper legal notices are the traditional service alternative in cases where the defendant spouse can't be located. But a new trend is emerging in which courts are permitting legal service on hard-to-find spouses through their potentially much easier-to-find Facebook accounts. Could starting the divorce process now be only a Facebook message away?
  • Palimony in New Jersey after the Latest Challenge
    A July 22, 2016 decision in New Jersey Superior Court, Lee v. Kim (Bergen County FM-02-1745-16), upholds the constitutionality of New Jersey’s 2010 law requiring cohabitation agreements, also known as “palimony” agreements, to be in writing. The case also stands as a good example of exactly why written agreements are necessary.
  • Raising an Olympian when You Are a Divorced Parent: New Jersey Child Support Guidelines
    Kids involved in athletics—as well as some of their parents—might experience a burst of inspiration from the current Summer Olympics. If you are a separated or divorced parent and your child wants to step up training in their sport to reach Olympian levels, you may wonder about your financial responsibilities. Are you required to fund things like advanced training, private coaches, tournaments, and travel costs ? And is your child’s other parent obligated to share these costs?
  • Same-Sex Marriage Effects on Family Law
    The Supreme Court ruling making same-sex marriage a constitutional right was the beginning of new societal norms; however, many in the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community are still facing legal battles as state and local lawmakers hurry to address emerging legal issues. In just the first four months after the Supreme Court ruling, 96,000 same-sex couples were married.
  • Virginia Supreme Court Rules on Same-Sex Couples
    It has been common and expected that when a woman is receiving alimony payments from her ex-husband, he will no longer have to pay spousal support when she becomes engaged to another man. However, when that same woman instead becomes engaged to another woman, courts have ruled that the man must continue his spousal support payments in Virginia; that is, until a recent decision reversed this ruling.
  • How Is Child Support Calculated in Florida?
    Child support, either as a result of divorce or a dispute between unmarried parents, is a potentially complicated situation from the emotional, financial and family point of view. The parents and parties involved (including your Florida divorce or family attorney), must not lose sight that the goal of child support is not to resolve conflicts between the parents but to ensure the welfare of the children.
  • Bird's Nest Arrangements Offer Big Benefits
    As families evolve and adjust to changing times, the structure of shared child custody agreements has also adapted.
  • Victims Seek to Change Laws in Maryland
    Domestic violence has long been a serious problem in the state of Maryland and throughout the United States. One Maryland delegate is a survivor and believes, along with scores of other victims, that lives are being destroyed each day because the word “abuse” as defined by law is not definitive or strong enough.
  • Custody and Assisted Reproduction
    Assisted reproduction has been in the spotlight lately due to the increasing number of LGBT families conceiving children. Inevitably, some of these couples separate, and the law is grappling with how to handle issues of child custody.
  • Potential Changes to Maryland Divorce Law
    The state of Maryland is moving toward a change in their divorce legislation.



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