Family Law

What is a legal separation?

There is no such thing as a legal separation versus a non-legal separation.

Spouses are considered “separated” at law when they no longer reside together with an intention to live as a married couple.  A separation at law involves the withdrawal from the matrimonial relationship by one or both spouses with the intent of destroying the matrimonial consortium.

A “separation” does not necessarily entail a physical separation.  In other words, you can be legally “separated” and yet continue to reside with your spouse under the same roof. 

You do not need your spouse’s consent to separate.  Rather, the act of separating may be made by both spouses mutually or by one spouse against the will of the other.

In some cases there is a dispute as to the date when the spouses separated.  When asked to consider a separation date, the court will evaluate numerous factors, including whether the spouses:  physically separated; participated in social activities together; ate meals together; performed domestic services for one another; engaged in sexual relations; and occupied separate bedrooms.


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