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How to File for a Legal Separation

When marital problems arise, a legal separation allows couples to work through their existing issues before deciding on divorce or reconciliation.


  • Step 1: Meet residency requirements Meet your state’s residency requirements. Laws vary from state to state, so check your state’s court website.
  • Step 2: Decide legal representation Decide if you need to hire a lawyer or are willing and able to file the paperwork on your own.
  • TIP: Reasonably priced do-it-yourself legal kits are available for purchase online.
  • Step 3: Complete paperwork Complete the necessary paperwork. Include provisions for the custody of children, child support and alimony payments, division of property, and current financial obligations.
  • TIP: A legal separation is binding in the eyes of the courts and could dictate an eventual divorce decree. Take care when filling out the paperwork.
  • Step 4: Serve papers Arrange to have law officers serve your spouse with the separation papers.
  • Step 5: File the paperwork File the paperwork, with notarized signatures, if both parties are in agreement. A judge will need to decide the matter if a spouse contests any part of the petition.
  • FACT: The Bolsheviks pioneered the no-fault divorce after the Russian Revolution in 1917.

You Will Need

  • Internet access
  • Required paperwork
  • Law officers
  • Notary public
  • Do-it-yourself legal kit (optional)
  • Lawyer (optional)

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