Legal Separation

U.S. Divorce Law Center


Find a Law Firm:


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

  • 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.
  • Divorce & Family Law Courts: The Ten Biggest Mistakes Men Make
    It’s no secret, when it comes to divorce with children involved, there seems to be an inequality in the courts based on gender—more often than not, the mother walks away with all of the rights, leaving the father frustrated and denied of the paternal rights deserved.
  • Protect your Financial Security During and After Divorce
    A growing number of people are divorcing late in life. No matter what the reason it is imperative to protect your financial security throughout and after the divorce process. You have accumulated a lot of things during the marriage—now is the time to retain as many as possible. There are savings and investment accounts, real estate and other personal and in some cases business assets to consider. An estate plan must be updated, health and other insurance replaced and the list goes on.
  • Post-Divorce Child Custody Modification Issues in Missouri
    The “best interests” of the child is the family law gold standard used to determine child custody, adoption, guardianship, and visitation rights among other issues. This also is the benchmark for modifying custody and support issues post-divorce. True, it is a subjective, discretionary test that evaluates factors that affect the welfare and interests of the child, but its importance is paramount as a tool for determining child custody in Missouri.
  • How Divorce Effects Children
    Decades ago, the American culture as a whole began believing that unhappy parents equaled unhappy kids. This belief led many parents to divorce for the sake of their kid's happiness. However, research on the subject, which has spanned over 30 years, has found that in reality, kids suffer more and are therefore unhappy more when their parents get divorced. Consequently, parents aren’t any happier either.
  • Chronic Illness and Divorce
    Chronic illness is the leading cause of death and disability in the United States. Experts say it also increases the risk of divorce from the 40-50% norm to as much as 75%. Given the relationship between chronic diseases and conditions—such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke, immune conditions, arthritis, etc.—and divorce, it becomes prudent to plan what steps to take if one should become seriously ill. This is especially true for older married couples.
  • Helpful Tips for Single Mothers After Divorce
    This is for the single mothers out there who never thought they could make it through their divorce and did. Divorce is draining, both emotionally and physically. You know you’ve made the right decision because it was more painful to be in a dysfunctional marriage.

Find a Local Lawyer