Marital separation occurs when spouses in a marriage stop living together without getting divorced. Married couples may separate as an initial step in the divorce process or to gain perspective on the marriage and determine if a divorce is warranted. Other couples may separate as an alternative to divorce for economic or religious reasons, for tax purposes, or to ensure continuing retirement and/or health insurance benefits for both spouses. A separation can be initiated informally, or there can be a legal separation with a formal separation agreement filed with the court. As for a divorce, the latter may include provisions for alimony, whether to have sole custody or shared parenting of any children, and the amount of child support.
Separation to enhance a marriage
Although the emotional impact of separation is similar to that of divorce, some argue that a temporary separation may also occur to enhance the marriage as a tool to stay together. Some experts regard a six-month separation as good amount of time for a temporary separation, since it is long enough to set up a second household and gain perspective, but not long enough to seem permanent.[medical citation needed]
Ground for divorce
A separation may be unilaterally decided by one of the spouses moving away. Many U.S. state statutes, for example Virginia's, specify that being separated for a given period of time can be grounds for divorce.
- Spanier, Graham B.; Anderson, Elaine A. (August 1979). "The Impact of the Legal System on Adjustment to Marital Separation". Journal of Marriage and the Family. 41 (3): 605. doi:10.2307/351630. JSTOR 351630.
- Fitzpatrick, David (February 1987). "Divorce and Separation in Modern Irish History". Past & Present (114): 172–196. JSTOR 650964.
- Weiss, Robert S. (January 1976). "The Emotional Impact of Marital Separation". Journal of Social Issues. 32 (1): 135–145. doi:10.1111/j.1540-4560.1976.tb02484.x.
- "§ 20-91. Grounds for divorce from bond of matrimony; contents of decree". Code of Virginia.