What is Legal Separation?

About Separation Agreements and Legal Separation

Legal separation involves a scenario where a married couple creates a legal arrangement and agreement to live separate and apart while remaining married in the eyes of the law. This means that they may not remarry or enter into a domestic partnership with another person, unless they actually terminate their marriage agreement through a divorce or declare their marriage void through annulment. Some couples may choose legal separation as a way to determine whether they would like to divorce at some point in the future. In other situations, couples may wish to remain legally married for religious, financial or personal reasons.

Not all states in the U.S. recognize the legal documentation of separation. Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Mississippi and Delaware do not provide legal recourse for separation. In states where legal separation is recognized, each has its own approach but the basic idea remains the same. Similarly as in a divorce, spouses must work out legally sound arrangements pertaining to child custody, child support, spousal support and property division. If spouses divorce in the future, their separation agreement and the date of separation may be taken into account when determining support, property division and custody.

It can be difficult to determine whether legal separation is the right course of action for you and your spouse. You may wish to discuss exactly how this may affect you from financial and legal standpoints and may also be interested in reviewing your other options. With knowledge and experience related to legal separation, divorce and family law as a whole, a family law attorney can guide you in the right direction.

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