Separation Law




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

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  • Annulments in Florida & Differences with Divorces in Florida
    Marriages fail. It is the sad truth that many people have to face, and they are then faced with the potential options of getting a divorce or an annulment. Florida Family Law lawyers often have to explain the difference between divorce and annulment to their clients.
  • Role of Child’s Preference in a Child Custody Case
    A child’s preference in a custody case may have no effect, or it may have a direct effect on the ultimate outcome of the custody case. Parents often make decisions related to child custody by their own agreement and may consider their child’s opinion in a manner they deem appropriate. However, if the parents do not agree on this information, a judge makes the decision.
  • What is the Difference between Legal and Physical Separation?
    Legal and physical separation are two distinct concepts that are largely unrelated to each other. A person can be physically separated from his or her spouse without being legally separated. Some states even allow a couple to be legally separated without being physically separated. Knowing which classification a person is under is important in being aware of his or her rights.
  • Different Types of Child Custody Arrangements and How to Get What You Want
    Child custody laws are based on state law. There are a number of different types of custody. What is best in a particular case depends on the state laws, the parents’ agreement and the circumstances.
  • The Downside of Divorce Lawyers Who Are Too Aggressive
    It is a common situation during divorce for one or both spouses to run out and try to get the most aggressive lawyer with a pit bull reputation. Aggressive lawyers may sometimes be able to bring about positive results during the process of divorce. However, those who are not led by their clients’ best interests may actually do more harm than good. Some of the downsides of using an overly aggressive lawyer include:
  • Buyout Your Ex
    You’re in the middle of a divorce and you want to stay in your home. You and your spouse both feel the stability will be good for the children. While it may give your children stability, it may just put you in the poor house.
  • Special Factors to Deviate from Child Support Guidelines
    Each state is required to establish child support guidelines so that there is a systematic way to assign a specific amount of support given specified objective criteria. However, family court judges often have the discretion to make a subjective deviation from these guidelines.
  • Key Distinctions between Legal Separation and Divorce
    Many of the processes involved in divorce are also used for separations. However, there are distinct differences between a legal separation and divorce. Furthermore, some states do not recognize a legal separation, causing the classification to be merely married or divorced, even if spouses are physically separated.
  • Vetting a Family Law Lawyer Before Signing on the Dotted Line
    It can be difficult to know where to turn when you are facing the prospect of divorce or other contested family law case. Many individuals do not have an existing relationship with a lawyer and do not know where to begin. Finding the right divorce lawyer is critical to having a successful divorce. Some ways to vet the right lawyer include:
  • 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.




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