Can a Person File for Legal Separation in Pennsylvania?
There is no law in Pennsylvania that allows for the status of “legal separation.” You are either single, married or divorced.
Couples may decide to separate, however, and in doing so will face many of the same issues as divorcing couples. These include how they will share expenses, divide property and share custody and visitation time with their children.
Thus, while separated spouses are still technically married in Pennsylvania, they can create legally binding separation agreements that outline the full rights and responsibilities of each spouse. An experienced family law attorney can help you draft such an agreement and ensure that you protect all your legal rights and best interests.
What to include in a separation agreement
If you do create a separation agreement, you will want to cover the following issues:
- Property division: Most separations involve one person leaving the family home. Your separation agreement should cover who will live in the home and which items the person leaving is allowed to take. The agreement should clarify that the use and removal of these items is allowed on a temporary basis. The fact that they’re removed from the house does not constitute a transfer of ownership.
- Child support and alimony: Your agreement may include arrangements for child support or alimony, limited to the period of separation. Not every separation or divorce necessitates alimony. However, all parents are obligated to support their children. Even though you are not officially divorced, your child support arrangement must follow the state guidelines used in divorce cases.
- Child custody and visitation: Your separation agreement should have clear instructions regarding how each parent will share custody responsibilities or, if one parent has sole custody, delineate the rights of the noncustodial parent for visitation.
For further guidance on how to develop a separation agreement that protects your rights as a spouse and parent, consult a dedicated Pennsylvania divorce lawyer with The Law Offices of Jennifer Courtney & Associates, P.C.