What Is the Difference Between Legal Separation and Trial Separation?
Legal separation is a type of separation where a couple asks the court to approve their terms for living separate and apart. Spouses can specify these terms, such as how to manage finances and debts, child support and custody, and spousal maintenance, in a Separation Agreement for the court to approve.
Typically, couples turn to legal separation when they do not want to immediately end their marriage with divorce but rather live apart and ensure their rights regarding money, property, children, and debts are protected. Legal separation gives spouses time to decide if they should reconcile, or proceed with a divorce.
Trial separation is more of an informal agreement between two spouses to separate and decide whether to continue their relationship. A trial separation is on the spouses’ terms without involving the court. Property acquired during a trial separation is still marital property, but couples can use a written Separation Agreement to document decisions about assets, children, and finances.