Armstrong Law, P.C.

Is legal separation possible in Massachusetts?

There may come a situation where you wish to take on all the trappings of a divorce without actually completely terminating your marriage - aka, a temporary or permanent separation. Yet not all states have a legal statute governing separations versus divorce; can you pursue a legal separation from your spouse in Massachusetts?

The simple answer is no. Per Mass.gov, Massachusetts has no legal precedent that defines "legal separation." Either you are married or you are divorced, but how you handle any separation is a matter between you and your spouse - for the most part. There are special circumstances, and one such circumstance is when you pursue what is called "separate support." But what is separate support?

Separate support is a support payment from your spouse, often pursued via lawsuit and awarded as judgment in a court case. In the case of separate support, often you and your spouse are living separately for what is considered justifiable reasons, such as infidelity, abuse or even work-related reasons. If it is shown that your spouse has failed to support you in this situation, you can sue for separate support for yourself and your children. One benefit of a separate support lawsuit is that it can also grant a legal order to prevent your spouse from limiting your personal freedoms. So while it is not officially legal separation, it mimics the process in many ways, including freeing you from many of the obligations of marriage while not actually being divorced.

This informational blog post should be used for reference only, and does not constitute actionable legal advice.

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