In Pennsylvania, unlike many other states, it is not necessary to obtain a court order to become legally separated. In fact, it is possible to obtain a Divorce without ever separating.
For most couples, separation occurs when one of them moves out and establishes a separate home. In some cases, particularly when financial reasons make separation impossible, separation can be said to have occurred when the parties begin leading separate lives.
Although separation is usually voluntary, in cases involving serious abuse, a Protection From Abuse Order can require the abuser to stay away, and award temporary possession of the marital home. For more information about abuse, see What Is Abuse, or visit the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence‘s Website.
Why is the Date of Separation Important in a Pennsylvania Divorce?
Although separation isn’t necessary in a Pennsylvania Divorce, the date of Separation is often an important fact, which is used to determine what is considered to be marital property, and can be divided in a Divorce. Division of Property in a Pennsylvania Divorce?
What Is a Pennsylvania Separation Agreement?
A separation agreement is a private contract between two spouses. It is used to settle questions related to a Divorce, such as division of their martial assets and debts, child custody, child and spousal support or alimony, and other financial issues.
A separation agreement can be signed before the Divorce; when a Divorce is filed, the agreement will often be attached to, and incorporated into the final Divorce Decree. In other cases, an agreement is reached after a Divorce Complaint is filed; the separation agreement is used as the means of implementing this agreement. Typically, both parties would have the advice of their divorce attorneys before signing an agreement.