A legal separation allows you to remain legally married but ends the economic community, allowing each party to retain his or her earnings and be solely responsible for his or her debts incurred after separation. Major issues to be decided either by agreement or by the Court include division of property and debts, residential and support arrangements for any minor children, and spousal maintenance. A separation may be formalized with a legal contract called a Separation Contract, or a “Decree of Legal Separation,” or both. A legal separation may be preferred to a dissolution for religious, economic or other reasons. You may decide to live apart while attempting to save your faltering relationship.
A legal separation action allows you to have the protection of the courts, without the necessity of dissolving the marriage that a divorce action would do. Procedurally, you go through much the same steps you do in a divorce, except the 90 day waiting period does not apply, and a legal separation may be finalized almost immediately if both parties are in agreement. Substantively, the court does virtually all the things it does in a divorce, except at the end of the process, you are still legally married.