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What is Legal Separation in PA?

There are a lot of misconceptions about legal separation. It becomes especially confusing when each state has their own variations in family law for divorce and separation. Hopefully this will clear up some questions you may have concerning the process in Pennsylvania family law courts.

What Legal Separation Is Not:

• In Pennsylvania, there is no “legally separated” status – you are either single or married.
• It is not divorce. Divorce must be sought on its own.
• Liberation from joint debts and expenses or your partner’s debts and expenses.
• A prelude agreement to divorce settlements. Property, alimony, and child support all have to be re-evaluated and decided during official divorce proceedings.

What Legal Separation Is:

• It is simply an agreement (and legally binding contract) that outlines the responsibilities and rights of each partner. It is commonly referred to as a “separation agreement”.
• It should cover division of property, alimony, child support, visitation, custody, etc.
• The agreement should outline whether material belongings are being used temporarily because a formal division of property will occur in divorce proceedings should a divorce be sought later.
• Disputes over the agreement are settled in a civil court – not a family court.

Separation agreements vary by couple and can involve a number of tricky legal situations. It is important that each partner seeks legal advice to protect himself or herself during the period of separation. This is especially important as assets and debts often change during separation and both parties can be held responsible. Don’t hesitate to contact our law office for a consultation with one of our family law lawyers!