I’m Not Quite Ready to Get a Divorce: Does Massachusetts Recognize Legal Separation?

| Feb 24, 2017 | Divorce |


Sometimes parties decide to separate but are not ready to file for divorce in Massachusetts and officially end their marriage. The decision to separate rather than divorce can be based on a number of reasons such as the parties’ desire to attempt to save their marriage, religious beliefs which prohibit divorce, or the parties’ inability to afford to divorce at a particular time. People often ask whether during this time they can file for legal separation in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts law does not recognize the status of “legal separation“; however, it does permit a complaint for separate support. A complaint for separate support covers most of the issues contemplated by separating couples but does not end the marriage.

These are some of the issues that can be resolved in a separate support case:

  • Child custody and parenting plans
  • Child support
  • Division of property and debts
  • Spousal support/alimony

When deciding whether to file for support unconnected with dissolution of marriage a spouse should understand that often times the other party will counter-petition for a full divorce. In other words, filing such an action may be a catalyst for a divorce – the very result you may have been trying to avoid.

Another option to consider is what is called a post-nuptial agreement. People are more familiar with pre-nuptial agreements, but there are also Post Nuptial agreements which can work as a kind of security, which is a contract on what the desire would be if the parties do in fact seek a divorce. This may be another option among others.

In conclusion, while Massachusetts does not recognize legal separation, it does provide an opportunity for a spouse to ensure his or her continued financial support from the other party or other options which my resolve the issues a couple not ready to divorce may face.

    There are times when a complaint for separate support makes more sense than filing for divorce. For help determining what option is right for you, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar either through email or telephone 978-844 to schedule a FREE no obligation personal consultation. 

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