Legal Separation in PA
January 28, 2021


How to File for Legal Separation in PA

The ending of a marriage is a painful and scary time for most people. Emotions are high and there are many questions about how to proceed.

Often couples choose to separate before filing for divorce in PA. This gives them time and space to reflect on the marriage and decide if the next step is divorce or reconciliation.

In Pennsylvania, “legal separation” is not recognized. This means you don’t have to go through a court process and file paperwork to be considered separated.

If Legal Separation in PA isn’t Recognized, Then What is?

You can still live in the same house and be considered legally separated in PA. This is called living separate and apart. This often happens for financial reasons because it can be too costly for one spouse to move into a new residence.

If a couple is to be considered living separate and apart, it should be established that they have separate bedrooms, don’t eat meals together and sexual relations have ended.

If you and your spouse are separating, you may want to get a separation agreement. This spells out the rights and responsibilities of each spouse during this time. You should consider hiring a divorce attorney to help you with this process.

The separation agreement is a binding contract and can cover the following issues:

  • Property Division: This can be a time consuming and sometimes divisive issue between couples. Not only does this include vehicles and household belongings, it defines expenses such as the mortgage and taxes on the marital home.
  • Alimony Pendente Lite and Spousal Support: This is financial support paid by one spouse to the other.
  • Spousal Support: Temporary financial support paid to a spouse during legal separation.
  • Alimony Pendente Lite: Temporary financial support while the divorce is pending. Appeals can be made during this process.
  • Child Custody and Visitation: With a separation agreement, parents can determine a schedule for child custody and visitation of their children. Oftentimes parents hammer out a schedule that includes birthdays, holidays and vacations.

Married But Live Apart: What are the Advantages?

 Couples who chose to live separate and apart often use this to decide if the marriage is worth saving. It also provides financial benefits not available if the couple is divorced. This includes medical benefits, tax advantages and social security benefits.

Separation Leads to Divorce. What Do You Need to do Next?

 If you are going to file for divorce in Pennsylvania, you must be a resident of the Commonwealth for at least six months. Your complaint must be filed in the Court of Common Pleas where you live. There are two types of divorce recognized in Pennsylvania ─ Fault and No-Fault.

  • No Fault Divorce

No fault divorce is when you and your spouse mutually agree to divorce because the marriage is no longer working.

  • Fault-Based Divorce

One spouse blames the other for the failure of the marriage. If you file for fault-based divorce in Pennsylvania, you must prove your spouse is guilty of one of the following: adultery, bigamy, cruel and barbarous treatment, desertion, imprisonment for a crime, or indignities.

If you are considering separation or divorce in PA, consulting with a divorce lawyer is advised. Skilled divorce attorneys can walk you through this difficult and emotional time with care, while offering sound advice.

Please contact Daley Zucker at 717-971-8756 to speak with one of our seasoned divorce attorneys in Harrisburg, PA.

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