What is the difference between a separation and a legal separaton?

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What is the difference between a separation and a legal separaton?

Asked on May 27, 2015 under Family Law, Missouri

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

First of all unlike a divorce, whether a separation or legal separation, the parties are still married (which among other things means that they are not free to re-marry).

If a married couple is merely living apart, this does not constitute a legal separation; it is simply a separation.

A legal separation involves filing a petition with a court in the county where either spouse resides. With a legal separation the court issues orders for support, custody and related matters. In this respect it is much like a divorce case (although as stated above, the marriage is not ended).

Additionally, there is something known as a "separation contract" which is an agreement entered into between spouses, through which they resolve marital issues without going to court. Like a legal separation, a separation contract does not terminate a marriage. And like other contracts, a separation agreement does not have the effects of a court order. Although, if a spouse fails to comply with the contract, the other party can sue for breach.

 

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