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What is the difference between legal separation and divorce?

On Behalf of | Nov 22, 2021 | Family Law

A couple may want to separate before deciding to proceed with a divorce. This time apart may serve to ease into the final separation or as a means to stop it. However, in Pennsylvania, a legal separation is not recognized under the law.

Divorce is the only way to end a marriage and restore a couple to single legal status. Even so, time apart may prove helpful in proceeding through a divorce process.

Creating an agreement

Even though the state does not recognize legal separation, a document spelling out the terms may provide clarity and guidance. It may serve as a roadmap for divorce should the couple decide to go that route. Things that should go into a separation agreement include:

  • Financial split
  • Physical property division
  • Support payments for children
  • Time-sharing for child custody

Moving forward with divorce

During a divorce, the court does consider any separation agreement a couple entered into while living apart. The couple may draft a divorce agreement that will make their separation permanent.

If circumstances have changed, such as financial capability, then the couple should work together to compromise. Since Pennsylvania is an equitable division state, the court may want to take a closer look at each person’s independent financial situation before signing off on something that may benefit one spouse over the other.

Legal separation serves a purpose, even if a court does not recognize it as a legal status. The time away from each other may solidify a couple’s decision to part or provide a chance to reconcile.