Occasionally, married individuals will choose to go their separate ways but remain married. This condition is known as separation. For many, the confusing part of separation is understanding that separation comes in four different forms. These four different types of separation are identified by their legality, orders and living arrangements. In all but one of these four types, support orders such as child support and alimony are not ordered by the family court. However, legal separation does allow for these types of payments.
Many times, when a couple is considering divorce, they will engage in what is known as a trial separation. This time spent apart is not legally ordered and does not carry any legal consequences. Trial separation should not be confused with living apart. Trial separation periods can take place while a married couple is still living under the same roof. Living apart is just that, a married couple living in two separate residences. Some states consider the condition of living apart as a portion of pre-divorce. The assets and debts incurred during this period may impact property division if the couple chooses to divorce.
While not common, some married couples may choose to live separate lives but remain married. This condition is known as permanent separation. Although permanent separation is not a legally binding agreement on property division, child support or alimony, the living arrangements and property division maintained during this separation may be used as grounds for determining those elements if either spouse seeks a legal separation.
Legal separation is similar to permanent separation as both spouses choose to live entirely separate lives but not get a divorce. The main difference between these two types of separation is that a legal separation provides a court ordered outline for the distribution of property, child support payments, and alimony. Even though spouses may choose to remain married, receiving a legal separation provides them with a court ordered arrangement.
Although there are four types of separation, only a legal separation can be used to receive orders for alimony. Individuals interested in receiving alimony or child support during their separation may benefit by speaking to a divorce attorney.