Separation maintenance: What it is and who gets it

There are many reasons a Maryland couple may choose to separate rather than divorce. Perhaps they retain hope that their marriage will be restored. In some circumstances, separation is seen as an act of love meant to protect one or more parties from physical harm. Divorce and legal separation differ in several ways.

When a married couple enters a legal separation, the court often make decisions regarding issues similar to those in divorce. For instance, a spouse may need financial support to make ends meet and/or provide for children during the temporary split. The court may order separation maintenance, which is similar to spousal and child support in a divorce.

A request for separation maintenance is typically made through a motion filed by a family law attorney on behalf of a spouse. Should the separated couple later choose to divorce, the court will likely refer to the separation maintenance amount as a guideline for determining alimony and/or child support. The court may also be called upon to intervene regarding property issues.

Notice the difference between a trial separation and a legal separation. The former has no real legal effect and is merely a temporary parting between spouses to determine whether the marriage will be continued. When a spouse intends to formally end the marriage and files papers to do so, property or debt acquired beyond that point is considered separate property. A Maryland family law attorney can address any questions or concerns regarding the different types of separation.

Source: FindLaw, "Legal Separation vs. Divorce", Accessed on Jan. 3, 2017