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
- Texas Child Support Modification and Enforcement: Answers to FAQsIn Texas, there are strict limits on when parents can petition for a modification of child support. There are also strict penalties for violating child support orders. Learn what you need to know if you cannot meet your child support obligations or if your former spouse is refusing to pay.
- What Does the OPM Have to Do with My Divorce?Retirement from government work may lead to complications with the division of assets when a federal employee divorces his or her spouse. It is vital for the worker to know how his or her retirement benefits and accounts could face such deductions from a former spouse after reaching and progressing through retirement.
- 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 ActThe 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 RulesChanges 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 DivorceDuring 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.
- Military Pension Division in New York Divorce CasesOne 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 CaliforniaChild 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 DivorceWhen 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 DivorceDivorce 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.
- 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.