Should You Get a Legal or Informal Separation in Pennsylvania?

Posted by Joseph Lento | Apr 26, 2024 | 0 Comments

In Pennsylvania, many couples choose to remain married but live separate lives. In practice, this type of arrangement works well for many people. Legally, however, separation can be a bit tricky in Pennsylvania. 

At the LLF Law Firm, our Family Law Team can help you with all the legal aspects pertaining to the separation of your spouse and advise you on which steps to take in your particular situation. Call 888-535-3686 or fill out our contact form to schedule a consultation. 

What's the Difference Between Legal and Informal Separation? 

Married couples who are separated are still legally married. They're still considered a married couple even if they're living apart—sometimes still in the same house, just as roommates rather than as partners. In Pennsylvania, this arrangement is known as “separate and apart.” 

An informal separation, therefore, is when a married couple agrees to live “separate and apart” but doesn't legally change the status of their marriage. 

Legal Separation 

In Pennsylvania, legal separations don't exist. The state has no legal status for separated couples, but they are still married couples. If you and your spouse want a legally enforceable separation, you must obtain a divorce. 

Informal Separation 

Since getting divorced takes a long time and has certain eligibility requirements, many couples in Pennsylvania end up doing an informal separation. There's no document to sign or official status that states you and your spouse are “informally separated.” However, if you end up getting a divorce, you will need to have proof that you were “separate and apart” for at least 90 days or one year (depending on whether the divorce is mutual). 

How Does Legal or Informal Separation Affect Divorce in Pennsylvania? 

Although you cannot get legal recognition as “separated,” you can draw up a civil contract with your spouse that stipulates the rights and responsibilities of each party. This contract doesn't change your married status; it just divides assets and obligations. If both of you sign it, it's legally enforceable in the state of Pennsylvania, just like any other signed contract between two parties. 

Support Payments 

Even if you and your spouse are still legally married, your separation contract can include support payments. You can either get Alimony Pendente Lite (APL) or spousal support, depending on whether the divorce process has started. 

Child Custody 

If you have children, your civil separation plan can include custody arrangements. You can create a co-parenting schedule, determine how much child support should be paid (if any), and decide who takes care of each of the child's needs. 

Division of Assets 

The separation agreement can also cover who remains in the marital residence, as well as how to handle joint loans and other debts. You can also stipulate who keeps certain belongings, such as cars or electronics. 

Call the LLF Law Firm's Pennsylvania Family Lawyers 

Our Family Law Team is ready to assist you with your separation agreement in Pennsylvania. We'll ensure that you're aware of all your options and assist you as you determine which separation arrangement is best for you and your family. Call our firm today at 888-535-3686 or submit your info via our online form, and we'll reach out to you. 

About the Author

Joseph Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a veteran of one of the nation's busiest family courts with nearly 20 years' experience passionately helping families. By day, he worked in the trenches of family court, and at night, he studied the law. He helped countless families while working at family court, and he went on to become an attorney, dedicating his law practice to continuing the work he started years earlier. Mr. Lento's experience both behind the scenes and on the front lines allows him to understand a client's family law matter from all angles, and allows him to find and employ the most effective strategies to get favorable outcomes for any client. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Contact a skilled Family Law Team Today!

The LLF Law Firm has unparalleled experience practicing Family Law in Pennsylvania. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you and your family, contact our offices today. Our Family Law Team will go above and beyond the needs for any client and fight for what is fair.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations - the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, and York County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.