Do You Need a Legal Separation Before a Divorce?

Divorce-iStock_000016414144XSmallWhen you decide you no longer wish to be married, you may go through a trial separation before a divorce or you may go through a separation as you wait for the details of the divorce to be hammered out and a settlement finalized. Although you will likely live apart before the marriage is actually dissolved by the judge, you do not necessarily need a formal legal separation before a divorce.

A legal separation can occur when you go before the court or negotiate together to create an agreement addressing the terms of the separation. For example, a separation agreement could specify who is going to pay bills in the home, who is going to live in the family home, and how kids should be taken care of.

You do not necessarily need to create a formal written separation agreement (or ask the judge to create one for you if you are having problems). If you can simply and informally decide how to live separately before you are officially divorced, there is no requirement saying you must have a legal separation. However, if you are not getting money you need from your spouse to support yourself and kids, if you are not being allowed to see your kids, or if other issues arise, then you may need a legal separation agreement. A divorce attorney can help you to get one.

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