Legal Separation in Pennsylvania

By Lee A. Schwartz, Attorney at Law

Published: July 17, 2004

Oftentimes clients or potential clients will as me to help them “get” a “legal separation.” In Pennsylvania, there is no such legal status as being “legally separated.” You are single, married or a widow(er). However, there are things that can be done to protect clients while they are separated.

In many cases, we will prepare a Separation Agreement. A Separation Agreement is a legally binding document that can protect both parties during separation. There are customarily several main sections to this document:

  1. Division of Property: Many times parties will separate and the party leaving will need to take some furniture with him or her to that person’s new home. This agreement can provide that a party can take the furniture, but the Agreement may provide as to whether this division of property is permanent or whether it is intended to be temporary and just for the convenience of the parties, but not to be construed as a division of property at divorce time.
  2. Support: A Separation Agreement can provide for child support payments as well as Spousal Support payments during the period of separation. In that way, the dependent spouse can rely upon the fact that he or she will be supported during the separation.
  3. Custody: As with support, custody arrangements can be made through a Separation Agreement. In this way, the party who has moved out can be assured that he or she will maintain contact with the child or children of the marriage. The Agreement will stipulate who the primary and partial custodians will be and can also have a detailed schedule of visitation.

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