Marital Separation is a type of relationship in which a couple lives apart from one another but are still considered to be legally married. In a marital separation arrangement, the couple can sometimes take actions that are reserved for divorced spouses, even though they retain the legal status of “married."

Marital separation is sometimes simply called “separation”; if the arrangement is recognized by the state, it is often called “legal separation."

What Is the Purpose of Marital Separation?

Marital separation can be entered into for various reasons. It doesn’t necessarily lead to a final divorce, although sometimes this can be the case. Separation may be needed when:

  • The couple needs some time away from one another and still wishes to reconcile
  • One spouse needs protection from physical or emotional abuse
  • The couple is not considering divorce due to religious or other morally motivated reasons
  • The couple wishes to retain a married status for legal purposes, such as for filing tax reports, etc.

Can I File for Support and Custody in a Marital Separation Arrangement?

In some instances, the partners in a martial separation might be able to file for legal orders that are usually reserved only for divorce cases. For example, one partner might be able to file for spousal or child support from the other party. In another example, both parties might wish to file for a certain type of child custody and visitation schedule to be followed regularly.

If this is the case, the couple might wish to create a separation agreement that outlines those types of arrangements. They can submit the document to a judge, who can then approve it so that it becomes enforceable as a legal document. The separation agreement may be edited or amended in the future with the court’s approval; however, violations of the order may lead to legal consequences such as a contempt order.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Marital Separation?

You may have some pressing legal inquiries such as “What is marital separation?” or “Is marital separation right for me?”  If that’s the case, you may wish to contact an experienced family lawyer in your area. Your lawyer will be able to assist you with whatever legal issues you may be facing with regards to your marriage. Also, if you need to make an appearance in court, your attorney can represent you during the process.