What Should I Know About Legal Separation?

Rispoli & Borneo P.C.

Personal Injury Lawyer

Legal separation is not as common as a divorce; however, they are treated in a similar manner to divorce cases and should be taken seriously. As a family lawyer might explain to you, legal separation cases can affect the lives of all involved. If you’re considering a legal separation over a divorce, it is important to understand the difference between the two. If you would like further assistance, call a family lawyer.

What Are the Grounds for a Legal Separation?

While all states have their own laws for legal separation, many are similar. In general, the grounds for a legal separation are:

  • Incurable insanity
  • Irreconcilable differences
  • Abandonment
  • Adultery
  • Cruelty

The Difference Between A Legal Separation and a Divorce

Divorce and legal separation are similar; however, there are differences as outlined below:

  • There may be no waiting period to obtain a legal judgement.
  • Upon the entry of a judgement, each party’s financial matter becomes separated. 
  • Legal separation concludes as soon as there is a judgement. 
  • Some states do not require any residency requirements. 

Why Someone Would Seek Legal Separation

There are many different reasons for people to opt for a legal separation as opposed to a divorce. In general, we, at [law firm name], find it is most common when there are religious reasons involved. For example, if a clients’ religion looks down upon a divorce, they may prefer to legally separate. Another reason for legal separation over divorce may regard certain federal benefits, such as Social Security, which may still be made available. Under Federal law, parties who have been married at least 10 years may be eligible to receive benefits of the other spouse. Furthermore, they will be able to continue to file joint tax returns and may be able to receive survivor benefits or military retirement from the VA.

The Process of a Legal Separation

The process of a legal separation is very similar to a dissolution of marriage. In order to get a legal judgement, a petition must be filed. Once filed, a judicial officer and case number will be assigned to you. In general, a Summons, and papers, will be served to the responding party. After which, he or she will have 30 days to respond. Failure to do so may result in a successful judgement. In addition to these basic steps, both parties will need to disclose their financial statements. If either wishes, they can commence discovery or file for temporary orders. A case management hearing may be scheduled, at which there may be an attempt to resolve the case. If the case cannot be resolved, a trial may ensue. The eventual goal will be to obtain a successful resolution on issues regarding the legal separation, child support, visitation, and custody, spousal support, debts, division of property, and so forth. 

Do You Need a Lawyer for a Legal Separation?

While you may not need a lawyer for a legal separation, it is recommended. At the minimum, you may want to schedule a consultation with a family lawyer in Baltimore, Maryland to discuss what you can expect. 


Thanks to Greenberg Law Offices for their insight into family law and what to know about legal separation.