Does Pennsylvania Law Allow Legal Separations?
Married couples experience good times and bad during the years they are together. It is not always easy to determine when arguments and disagreements are just a temporary storm that will pass, or if they are indicative of a bigger issue. This is just one reason couples sometimes want to legally separate in Pennsylvania. Other times, a person’s religion may prohibit them from getting a divorce. The Keystone State is not one that recognizes legal separations, but that does not mean couples do not have options. Below, our Media divorce lawyer explains further.
Pennsylvania Law Requires Couples to Live Separate and Apart
Under the Pennsylvania Divorce Code, couples must live separate and apart before they can legally dissolve their marriage. Living separately does not necessarily mean that each party must have their own residence. Couples can continue to live in the same household but they must maintain separate lives. This means they each pay their own bills, have separate sleeping quarters, and do not engage in sexual relations.
Living separate and apart can create issues for individuals, particularly when each spouse does have their own residence. If children are involved, for example, custody and visitation arrangements will have to be made. If one person wishes to take certain property with them, this can also result in a dispute. The longer the couple lives separate and apart, the more likely issues are to arise. This is why it is so important to work with a Media divorce lawyer who can advise on your case and prevent future disputes.
Drafting a Separation Agreement
While Pennsylvania law does not recognize legal separations, spouses can still draft a separation agreement. A separation agreement is a contract that outlines the rights and legal obligations of the parties involved. The terms included in a separation agreement are similar to those of divorce and they can include:
- Division of property: Property division issues can become very complicated when a couple lives separate and apart from each other. A separation agreement should outline who will live in the family home, and who is responsible for paying the mortgage. Household belongings, vehicles, and other personal property should all be included within a separation agreement.
- Spousal support: Spousal support is different from alimony and it is only available when a couple lives separate and apart. During a divorce, alimony may then be awarded to replace spousal support.
- Child custody: It is critical for separating parents to have a custody and visitation schedule in writing. Holidays, vacation time, and birthdays should all be included in the separation agreement.
The above are just a few of the terms to include in a separation agreement. A divorce lawyer can advise on the terms unique to your situation and ensure the agreement addresses them.
Call Our Divorce Lawyer in Media Today
If you and your spouse have decided to live separate and apart, our Media divorce lawyer can help. At Barbara Flum Stein & Associates, our seasoned attorney can review the facts of your case and draft an agreement that protects your best interests. Call us now at 610-565-6100 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.