For some couples there may be situations in which a legal separation is preferable to a divorce. A legal separation is sometimes a “first step” or temporary solution for couples uncertain whether or not a divorce is what they really want. For others, a divorce may not be a viable possibility due to religious or cultural reasons and a legal separation may be a permanent situation to a marriage that is not thriving. Although legal separation is handled much like a divorce by the courts, it is critical to understand that even after all agreements and issues have been addressed, the parties still remain legally married to one another.
Legal separation proceedings are very similar to dissolution proceedings and the parties are able to deal with all the same issues (other than marital status) as they could in a divorce, including the family home, custody of children, asset protection, visitation rights, and support issues. There is no waiting period requirement for a legal separation, but both parties must agree to the separation.