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No matter how long two people have been married, there are times when something happens that fractures the union beyond repair. If this is where you find your marriage, separation is probably heavy on your mind.

You could accomplish this by simply living in separate homes or by getting a legal separation. Physically separating before deciding to file a divorce can be beneficial on both sides. You and your partner have a right to do this on your own terms without involving the court system. However, there is no legal significance without court acknowledgement of the separation agreement.

Deciding Whether to Involve the Court for a Separation Agreement

Separating can present challenges when two people decide to write their own agreement without help from the court system, particularly if you and your spouse cannot come to an amicable agreement on the terms. If this is the case, you may want to use the court to ensure the agreement is both legal and effective in being enforced.

For some jurisdictions, a Marital Separation Agreement is acceptable if it is part of the divorce complaint. The Agreement becomes an enforceable court order. This is the only way to legally enforce the Agreement if you or your spouse violates the terms. Merging the document with the final judicial decree only makes it a contract between two people that is not enforceable.

Difference between a Legal Separation and Divorce

A legal separation and a divorce creates physical space between you and your spouse. While there are avenues to ensuring that your separation is legal, it is not the same as divorcing your spouse. The sole difference between the two is even with a legal separation, your marriage is still acknowledged as legal and you are not free to marry someone else.

During the legal separation, you and your spouse may choose to reconcile. Depending on where you live, you may not need court approval to reconcile during a legal separation. In addition, where you live may also determine how long the legal separation is valid. Some states allow one year for a legal separation.

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