Legal Separation

U.S. Divorce Law Center

Legal Separation Laws in the U.S. Copyright

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

  • Pennsylvania Divorce Proceedings with Visitation Rights
    When one spouse divorces the other in Pennsylvania, it is important to know what visitation rights are available to the parent without primary or full custody of affected children. Often the father is the one seeking visitation to see his kids and knowing what his rights in these matters and may provide him with the means to engage in parental activities.
  • Will My Ex Have Rights to My Government Benefits?
    When a military veteran enters retirement, his or her retirement accounts and benefits may face divisions for any ex-spouses attached to the situation. It is important to understand how this affects the former military service member and how much he or she will need to give to the other person as marital property.
  • USFSPA: Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act
    The intention of Congress in 1982 in creating the USFSPA was to ensure that former spouses of military members receive financial protection after the marriage is over. This Act could protect the former spouse through divisions in military retirement pay in becoming marital property when the couple dissolve the relationship.
  • Disabled Military Retirees May Pay Less to Ex-Spouses - U.S. Supreme Court Rules
    Changes in regulations for various types of pay and compensation reduce or increase often based on the rulings that occur through district and supreme courts. In the newest ruling, the amounts that military retired service members pay to spouses that divorced prior to or during retirement may decrease to support the veteran more and the ex-spouse less.
  • Problems Involved with Hiding Assets during a Pennsylvania Divorce
    During divorce, spouses may try to protect their assets from division by hiding them from the other spouse. This may be easier if the spouse has handled the couple’s finances for most of the marriage and the other spouse is unaware of the true extent of the marital estate. However, hiding assets during the divorce process can lead to significant consequences to all parties involved.
  • New Tax Laws' Impact on Virginia Divorce and Spousal Support
    Spousal support helps provide monetary assistance to a spouse who has less earning capacity or income than his or her spouse. State laws determine when to award spousal support and in what amount. However, other factors may influence whether spousal support is requested or agreed to by the parties, such as tax treatment. New tax laws may impact Virginia divorces and spousal support orders.
  • Military Pension Division in New York Divorce Cases
    One of the major issues involved in a divorce case is the division of the couple’s assets and debts. For many couples, a major asset is their retirement fund or pension. In some cases, these assets are subject to division in a divorce case. While this process is complicated enough on its own, there are additional complications when the couple involves a service member.
  • Legal Options for Child Custody in California
    Child custody is often disputes in divorce cases in California. It is common for each parent to believe that the children would be better off with them. Parents have the ability to work out an agreement related to child custody without having to have the judge make important decisions regarding child custody. However, if parents cannot reach an agreement, they may have to litigate the matter.
  • Considerations before Moving Out of the Marital Home during a Pennsylvania Divorce
    When parties are not getting along and contemplating divorce, one of them may move out of the marital home to ease the tension. However, there may be important implications that arise when one of the spouses moves out. It is important for spouses to understand their rights and obligations during the divorce process. An experienced divorce lawyer can make sure that your rights are protected during this process.
  • How Retirement Accounts Are Divided in a Georgia Divorce
    Divorce is often a complex process that involves legal obligations, emotions, logistical concerns and other stressful considerations. Although many divorcing parties are distraught over the prospect of divorce, divorcing parties are often in the position of having to make important decisions that may have an impact on their life for years to come.

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