Marital separation

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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.[1][2][3]

Separation to enhance a marriage[edit]

A temporary separation may also occur to enhance the marriage as a tool to stay together.[4] 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.[5]

Ground for divorce[edit]

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.[6][7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Encyclopedia Britannica, Separation
  2. ^ Tom Lutzenberger, Definition of Separation in Marriage, Our Everyday Life, December 8, 2017.
  3. ^ Emily Doskow,Different Types of Separation: Trial, Permanent, and Legal Separation, Nolo's Essential Guide to Divorce, NOLO.
  4. ^ Gadoua, Susan Pease (25 April 2010). "Can a Marital Separation Make Your Marriage Better?". Psychology Today.
  5. ^ Bernstein, Elizabeth (9 August 2011). "To Save a Marriage, Split Up?". The Wall Street Journal.
  6. ^ "Does the separation need to be documented?" (in German). Retrieved 2017-08-02.
  7. ^ "§ 20-91. Grounds for divorce from bond of matrimony; contents of decree". Code of Virginia.