A legal separation involves a formal decision by the married couple to live separate lives. Most states require the couple to file a request in family court.
There are many reasons a couple would choose a legal separation. Sometimes it is required by the court before the spouses can proceed with a divorce. Some couples may choose a legal separation if their religion prohibits divorce. Other times, a couple selects legal separation if they may hope for a reconciliation.
Like a divorce, a legal separation requires the couple to divide assets, make custody decisions, and freezes a spouse’s ability to spend freely from joint accounts.