Legal Separation Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Legal Separation, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Legal Separation?

(n) Legal separation is the court order by which spouses live apart but without formally discontinuing their marriage relationship by a divorce. Here relationship exists hence spouse cannot re-marry. Other conditions like maintenance, child care etc attributed to separation can be decided just like the case of divorce settlement.

History and Definition of Legal Separation

Legal separation is defined as a legal order issued by the court that allows spouses to live apart without dissolving their marriage. It provides the couples with time and distance to decide whether they want to continue their marriage or get a divorce. Legal separation can provide advantages over divorce, notably, it allows the parties time to test their separation before divorce, to try a reconciliation, to protect the interests of the children, health care benefits or social security benefits or to maintain religious beliefs that prohibit divorce.

The requirements, regulations and procedures for obtaining a legal separation vary depending on the jurisdiction. A legal separation typically ensures that the finances, assets, debts or property issues related to a marriage, child custody, child support, spousal support, and visitation are resolved, it is like a divorce but without a formal dissolution of marriage.

Examples of Legal Separation

  1. Mary filed for a legal separation to have time to decide whether she really wants a divorce from her husband.
  2. After years of financial disagreements, Catherine and Evan decided to get a legal separation rather than a divorce to split their assets before making final breakthroughs.
  3. When John separated from his wife, who was abusing alcohol, he filed for legal separation to protect his children and gain custody of them or visitation rights during the separation arrangement.

Legal Terms Similar to Legal Separation

  1. Divorce - Divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage by a court or other competent body.
  2. Annulment - Annulment is a legal procedure that invalidates a marriage, declaring that the marriage never happened.
  3. Separation Agreement - Separation agreement is a legally binding contract between separating parties that address the same issues as a divorce judgment i.e. property issues, spousal and child support, custody and visitation rights without the need for litigation.