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Does Pennsylvania Have Legal Separation?

  • If you and your spouse are no longer interested in staying together, you are probably considering a separation or divorce. However, in Pennsylvania, there is no formal court process or filing of court documents to start a legal separation. A legal separation is simply the date when one spouse gives unequivocal notice to the other spouse that the marriage is over.  This notice is clearly given when a divorce complaint is filed with the courts. Other forms of notice of a legal separation may be a letter, email or text message sent to the other spouse.

    Sometimes, a legal separation occurs when one spouse moves out of the marital residence.  Other times, spouses can be separated but continue to reside together. Proving a separation when both spouses continue to reside together is difficult unless a divorce complaint has been filed with the courts.

    In the event that you’d like to hold off on actually getting divorced but still want to address points of contention during this trial separation, you do have the option of entering into a marital separation  agreement (MSA) also referred to as a civil separation agreement. Whether or not you decide that a marital separation agreement is the best option for your family, it is critical that you make note of the date you decided to separate. This information will be important in your divorce proceedings.

    Your Marital Separation Agreement

    In a marital separation agreement, you and your spouse will be able to discuss issues that need to be addressed while you’re residing apart, including child custody, spousal support and child support. In addition, you’ll need to work out who will be responsible for paying the bills and expenses of your marital residence while you’re separated.

    Other Considerations

    There are a couple of things worth noting about separation in Pennsylvania. A no-fault divorce can be granted after you and your spouse have been separated for a year, making it even more important to note the date your separation started. If you’re concerned that your spouse will not recognize the separation or will cause other problems, a family law attorney can help.

    Schedule Your Consultation Today

    If you have further questions about separating from your spouse in PA, or if you’d like to discuss the details of your divorce, get in touch with an experienced Pennsylvania divorce lawyer at Lisa Marie Vari & Associates. You can visit our website or call our office at 1-844-VARI-LAW (1-844-827-4529) to schedule your initial consultation today.