What Does it Mean to Be Legally Separated?


For those who are not well-versed in family law, the terms legally separated and physically separated may end up getting used interchangeably. However, they have entirely different meanings. If spouses are legally separated, it means they have a legal separation judgment that details asset and debt division, child custody, alimony, and child support. However, they will remain married and cannot remarry.

Physical separation, on the other hand, is not legal. It only means that spouses chose to live separately for any number of reasons without obtaining a legal separation judgment.

Why Do Spouses Choose Legal Separation?

There are many reasons why couples decide to remain married, but legally separate. For example, if both parties are religious and divorce goes against their beliefs, they may want to remain married on paper while choosing to live separate lives. If the couple is unsure if divorce is the right step, and they are not ready to call it quits on the marriage, they may legally separate to assess if remaining together is what is best for them.

If a couple ultimately decides that they would like to end the marriage and obtain a divorce, being legally separated will have made that next step easier since many of the key issues will have already been resolved during the legal separation process. That said, unlike a divorce, which does not require consent, both parties must consent to a legal separation. However, if the petition asked for a legal separation, the other spouse never responded, and the petitioner requested a default, a legal separation judgment may be granted.

Whether you are filing for legal separation or a divorce, you should consider consulting with an experienced family law attorney.

Speak to Our Knowledgeable Family Lawyer About Legal Separation Today!

If you are choosing to legally separate from your spouse, the experienced team at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Graff can provide the guidance and advice you need to smoothly navigate it. Backed by more than 35 years of experience, you can trust in our ability to represent you and help you obtain the most favorable results for your case.

Reach out to our law office today at (805) 633-4999 to schedule a consultation with our attorney to get started on your legal separation case!

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