“Legally separated” is a type of marital status assigned to a couple that has filed for legal separation. In a legal separation, it is as if the couple has been divorced in many aspects. For example, a legal separation can require the courts to issue a child custody/visitation and support order, as if the couple were divorced. They may also issue a property division as well. 

Thus, some persons may file for legally separated status as an alternative to divorce. Some reasons for filing for legal separation may include:

  • Divorce is against the person’s religion or moral beliefs
  • Divorce is unavailable or difficult to obtain as a legal option
  • There is a chance that the couple might reconcile in the future
  • There are certain benefits for married persons that the person still wants to claim, such as tax benefits

Thus, the status of “legally separated” is often granted as an official court ruling, although it can sometimes be a temporary one. A person with legally separate status is also not allowed to remarry, since legally they are still married to their spouse.

How Is Legal Separation Obtained?

Legal separation is obtained much in the same way that divorce is processed. In a legal separation, one of the parties usually needs to initiate a filing with the family law court, and they often need to provide the other spouse with notice of the filing. 

In some cases, the couple may have decided informally between themselves that they wish to be separated. This type of separation can sometimes be enforced by the court, especially if the couple came up with a separation agreement

In the future, one spouse might be able to obtain spousal support from the other based on the agreement. For separation agreements, it’s always best to have a judge review and approve the agreement so that it’s legally enforceable.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Obtaining Legally Separated Status?

Legal separation can have major consequences for the lives of both spouses, as well as the children in the family. If you need help with legal separation filings, you may wish to contact a qualified family law attorney in your area. Your lawyer can help you understand the implications of legally separated status, and can provide you with representation during the separation hearings.