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

  • How Do You Determine Who Owes What Debt?
    Divorce cases are already confusing without trying to figure out how all of the financial obligations are going to be divided between both parties. Many people think that they don’t have to worry about their debts because they can pawn them off on the other party. Just because you can get rid of the spouse, that doesn’t mean your debts are going to disappear as well.
  • We Got Married in One Country, Live in Another Now and Want a Divorce.
    Where do I find a divorce lawyer (where we live now or where we got married)? Many countries, including the United States, allow you to get a divorce there, even if your marriage occurred in another country. Laws can vary drastically between countries, so be sure that you consult with your attorney regarding the steps necessary to get a divorce and whether the divorce will be valid in the country where you are currently residing.
  • Six Financial Dos and Don’ts When It Comes to Divorce
    Nobody said the divorce process was easy—but know life after divorce is possible. During a divorce, you’ll be faced with several important decisions that will ultimately affect your life both short- and long-term. Keeping your financial security in mind will make all the difference.
  • Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
    When people think of weddings, the first thing that comes to mind is love and happiness. However, most marriages end up in divorce, which is why parties need to protect themselves before that step is ever reached. To cover both your finances and other types of properties, it’s crucial to look into hiring a family lawyer to draft up some kind of agreement. Typically, there are two contracts used when dealing with marriages and they are prenuptial and postnuptial agreements.
  • Are Disparaging Social Media Remarks by an Ex Protected by the First Amendment?
    In 2010, Steve Nash, a basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers, filed for dissolution of his marriage to Alejandra Nash. Nash v. Nash, 307 P.3d 40 (Az. Ct. App. 2013). The parties were able to the resolve custody and parenting time with their two young children through a joint agreement, but the matter went to trial on the issue of child support. On the day the trial court issued its decree, Mrs. Nash “tweeted” several disparaging remarks pertaining to Mr. Nash.
  • The Difference Between Separation and Divorce
    If a married couple decides to call it quits and, thus, end the marriage, a divorce is almost always the initial inclination. However, some professionals advise against jumping into a divorce for a number of reasons, one of which is the immense financial liability.
  • 4 Common Misconceptions About Child Support After Divorce
    We’ve all heard of child support: an ongoing, periodic payment made by the noncustodial parent following the end of marriage. In fact, even in “joint custody” cases, there’s still a custodial parent—who the child spends more time with—and a noncustodial parent, and child support must be transferred. An exception to this would be if both parents earn the same income, pay equal amounts of expenses for the child and have the child the same number of days.
  • Depositions: A Metal Detector in a Landmine Field
    Parties often question the necessity of a deposition in a contested family law case. Versus allowing their attorney to take a necessary deposition, parties often dismiss the idea as a cost savings move or in the blind hope that their case will settle. This is a common mistake for parties who will undergo a trial or contested hearing in their family law matter.
  • Dealing With Debt During Divorce
    While some couples may fight over assets, a family law attorney can explain that other couples may have the most contention over debt.
  • Avoid A "Bar Fight Mentality" In Your Family Law Case
    Parties going through a divorce often have the viewpoint that it is helpful to be aggressive, confrontational and hostile in their family law case. By being a bully, or acting angry, they wrongly conclude that this will lend to a positive result in their family law case.

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