How do I get a “legal separation” in Pennsylvania?

September 9, 2014 | By Robert I Whitelaw

You don’t! Unlike several other states, Pennsylvania does not require separating parties to go to court and request that a judge issue a formal decree separating the parties. Rather, separating parties in Pennsylvania may enter in to private agreements, setting forth the terms of their separation. Common issues that arise during the separation period are temporary support (child and spousal), child custody schedules, debt payment, interim bills, expenses and other finances, and medical insurance. 

The date of the parties’ separation becomes a critical question in Pennsylvania since the marital value of most assets and debts is determined as of this date. Separation in Pennsylvania does not always mean physical separation. In fact, Pennsylvania jurisprudence is clear that spouses can be considered as separated while still residing in the same residence. The key question the courts will look at is when the parties began living “separate and apart” and stopped holding themselves out as husband and wife to the public.

If you and your spouse are separated, but do not wish to move forward with a formal divorce, a separation agreement is an effective way to protect both parties during this interim period.

About the Authors

Bob Whitelaw

Robert I Whitelaw

Partner

Bob is the co-chairman of the Family Law department and the Litigation department of Obermayer. He was the firm’s managing partner for 30 years and is still a member of the firm’s...

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