Legal Separation

Some states—but not all—allow you to get a legal separation instead of divorce or before you’re ready to get divorced. Although the specifics vary from state to state, the procedure for a legal separation is similar to divorce. Also, the separation judgment may address the same issues as in a divorce—such as spousal support (also known as alimony or maintenance), child custody and parenting time, child support, and the distribution of your marital property.

The big difference between legal separation and divorce is that after you get a legal separation, you’re still legally married—which means that you may not marry anyone else.

Of course, you may still decide to separate from your spouse even when your state doesn’t offer legal separation (or another similar procedure, such as “limited divorce”). And a few states require that couples live separately and apart for a period of time before they may file for divorce or get their final divorce judgment.

Unless you file for legal separation or divorce, you won’t be able to request court orders dealing with the issues discussed above. But you and your spouse could agree about those issues in a written separation agreement.  

Learn more about all of these issues in the articles below.

State Separation Laws:

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