Separation Definition and Legal Meaning

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

What is Separation?

(n) Separation is the state where a married couple live apart either at the same place or at different places, with out maintaining the marriage relationship, whether by a formal separation or by mutual desire.

History and Meaning of Separation

Separation is a legal term used to describe the state of a married couple living apart from each other without maintaining their marital relationship. This can be done formally through a separation agreement or informally through mutual agreement.

The concept of legal separation dates back to early English law, where separation was granted by the church in certain circumstances, such as adultery or desertion. In the United States, separation agreements became popular in the 1970s as a way for couples to mutually agree on the terms of their separation without going through a contentious divorce process.

Examples of Separation

Here are a few examples of how the term "separation" might be used:

  • After years of marital difficulties, John and Jane decided to separate and live apart.
  • Mary and Jack have been separated for six months and are still working on the terms of their separation agreement.
  • Tom and Sue have chosen an informal separation, where they still live together but lead separate lives.
  • James was granted a legal separation after his wife abandoned him and their children.

Legal Terms Similar to Separation

There are a few legal terms related to separation that may be useful to know:

  • Divorce: the legal ending of a marriage.
  • Annulment: a court order declaring that a marriage never existed.
  • Trial separation: a temporary separation to decide if a permanent separation or divorce is the best option.