Separation Law falls under family law and overlaps with divorce law. It deals with the procedures, rules and laws the parties to a marriage must follow when they no longer wish to live together as a married couple, but do not wish to seek a divorce or dissolution of the marriage at that time.
These laws vary by jurisdiction and not all states recognize legal separation. Those that do, allow the parties to the marriage to enter into legal agreements which address issues such as property division; assignment of assets, finances and debts; alimony or spousal support; child custody and child support. These agreements are recognized by a judicial body and are enforceable by law.
Grounds for obtaining a legal separation are often the same or very similar to those needed in that state to obtain a divorce. Some states refer to their form of legal separation as a limited divorce, and others as divorce from bed and board. In many instances, if the couple later seeks dissolution of marriage, the written agreement established for their legal separation may be converted or commuted to a divorce settlement.
In states that do not recognize legal separations, the methods of handling these issues may vary greatly. Some states still allow the spouses to enter into a written agreement addressing some or all of these issues, whereas others only allow this provision while a divorce between the spouses is pending. It is important to familiarize oneself with his/her state’s specific laws on this issue before proceeding. Currently, the following nine states do not recognize legal separations: Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Louisiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Idaho and Delaware.
For more information about individual separation laws, procedures and related topics for U.S. states, please visit our U.S. Divorce Law Center.
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Articles on HG.org Related to Separation Law
- How to Stop Child SupportEvery state recognizes that each parent is responsible for providing support for their children, whether the child lives with each parent or not. However, there are many circumstances when the family court should no longer have jurisdiction of the case or when child support should otherwise end.
- What Assets Are Protected from Divorce SettlementsFamily courts around the country recognize that spouses own some property that is separate from what they accumulated as a marital couple. Those assets that comprise the marital estate are subject to division at the time of divorce while separate property is generally excluded from a divorce award.
- Child Support Involving Surrogate MothersThe recent child support ruling against Sherri Shepherd, former co-host of The View, may set a new precedent for future divorce and child support cases involving surrogate mothers.
- Statutes of Limitation on Back Child SupportState laws determine how and when a person can be ordered to pay child support. Additionally, these laws dictate the window in which a person can collect arrearages.
- Divorce and How it Affects 401(K) Plans and Retirement Funds401K 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 SavingsMany 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.
- Are All Marriages Equal in Divorce CourtThe Supreme Court has acknowledged the validity of same sex marriage throughout the country. Of course, after parties get married, some of those parties decide to divorce. However, not all divorces are treated equally, because some of the doctrines surrounding divorce have traditionally been applied only to long standing heterosexual marriages.
- Enforcing Grandparent Visitation OrdersThe negative effect divorce often has on relationships sometimes goes beyond the spouses and their children.
- Proposed Legislation Effects Custody and Child Support LawsWhen there are children involved in a divorce, custody and how much child support is allocated are often important and provocative issues.
- All Family Law Articles
Articles written by attorneys and experts worldwide discussing legal aspects related to Family Law including: adoption, alimony, child support and custody, child visitation, collaborative law, divorce, domestic violence, elder law, juvenile crime, juvenile law, juvenile probation, paternity, pre-nuptial agreement, separation.
Separation Law - US
- Divorce and Separation - Overview
A divorce formally dissolves a legal marriage. While married couples do not possess a constitutional or legal right to divorce, states permit divorces because to do so best serves public policy. To ensure that a particular divorce serves public policy interests, some states require a "cooling-off period," which prescribes a time period after legal separation that spouses must bear before they can initiate divorce proceedings.
- Grounds for Legal Separation
Knowing the grounds for legal separation will help you prepare your case so you can quickly get the paperwork completed and start the process towards divorce. While not all of the following reasons for legal separation are valid in all states, it will help you start thinking about your defense.
- Legal Separation - Definition
a court-decreed right to live apart, with the rights and obligations of divorced persons, but without divorce. The parties are still married and cannot remarry.
- Separation Agreements
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) about separation agreements. If you are getting a divorce you will most likley find yourself signing a Separation or Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA). It is very important that you understand exactly what you are agreeing to before signing your agreement.
- Understanding Legal Separation
A legal separation is a written agreement that is filed with the court which addresses the rights and responsibilities of a married couple while they are living apart. Issues that can be addressed in a separation agreement include division of assets and debts, child custody and support, visitation schedules, alimony, etc.
Organizations Related to Separation Law
- American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers was founded in 1962, by highly regarded domestic relations attorneys “To provide leadership that promotes the highest degree of professionalism and excellence in the practice of family law.” There are currently more than 1600 Fellows in 50 states. The Academy Fellows are highly skilled negotiators and litigators who represent individuals in all facets of family law. These areas include divorce, annulment, prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements, marital settlement agreements, child custody and visitation, business valuations, property valuations and division, alimony, child support and other family law issues.
- Association of Family and Conciliation Courts
AFCC is the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts - an interdisciplinary and international association of professionals dedicated to the resolution of family conflict.
- International Association of Marriage and Family Counselors (IAMFC).
IAMFC is an organization that promotes excellence in the practice of couples and family counseling by creating and disseminating first-class publications and media products, providing a forum for exploration of family-related issues, involving a diverse group of dedicated professionals in our activities, and emphasizing collaborative efforts.
Publications Related to Separation Law
- Filing for Legal Marriage Separation - Tips
Now that you’ve decided to legally separate from your spouse you need to take the first step and file for a legal separation. Before doing anything make sure you fully understand that a legal separation is a binding, legal contract that is just as important as a divorce.