Legal Separation


DEFINITION of 'Legal Separation'

For all practical purposes, a circumstantial divorce without a legal decree. Legal separation usually entails a court order that two spouses can live apart as unmarried persons, except that they are still married. A couple that is legally separated must still deal with the typical divorce-related issues such as alimony, child support, child custody and property division.

BREAKING DOWN 'Legal Separation'

Legal separation is considered an alternative to divorce for those who may have religious or social objections to an actual divorce. This process can also be used in some cases as a basis for long-term reconciliation. However, the growing trend toward informal separation and no-fault divorces is making this more formal legal process increasingly obsolete.

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  1. When is litigation better than mediation in a high net worth divorce case?

    Typically, litigation is better than mediation in high-net-worth divorce cases for two major situations – when there are ... Read Full Answer >>
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    There are several issues to consider: The early distribution penalty - Assets distributed from a qualified plan in accordance ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How are Social Security benefits calculated for divorced spouse?

    The maximum Social Security retirement benefit payable to a divorced spouse is 50% of the amount that would be paid to the ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How does divorce affect Social Security benefits?

    If you are eligible to receive Social Security retirement benefits on your own account, your marital status has no impact ... Read Full Answer >>
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  6. How do alimony and child support factor into my taxable income?

    The Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, applies a different tax treatment to alimony than child support. Most forms of alimony ... Read Full Answer >>

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