Legal Separation in Pennsylvania

Legal Separation in Pennsylvania

By: Melissa Towsey, Esquire

The terms “legal separation” do not exist in Pennsylvania family law.  The concept of a “date of separation”, however, is an important date for purposes of equitable distribution (dividing your assets) and triggering various filing deadlines.  The date of separation is important in determining when the divorce can be entered and which assets and debts are to be categorized as marital and subjected to equitable distribution.

The date of separation can be defined several ways.  It is most often marked by filing a divorce complaint or moving out the martial residence.  However, sometimes parties can be separated while still residing in the same household.  There are several factors the court may consider when defining the date of separation.  Some factors to consider include but are not limited to:

– When intimate marital relations between the parties cease;

– The parties separate joint financial accounts;

– You and your spouse stop going out in public (to dinners, family events, etc.) as a couple.  A good question to ask yourself is “would my five closest friends or family members say that my marriage is in trouble?”

These factors are not everything the court may consider and you do not have to have met all of them to be separated while living in the same house.  This is a factor-based tested used by courts when the date of separation is sometime before the filing of a divorce complaint or when one party moves from the marital residence.

To schedule an appointment with one of our attorney’s, or for further information, call us at LaMonaca Law, at (610) 892-3877.


About the author

About Melissa Towsey

Melissa graduated from the University of Virginia in 2002 with a double major in Sociology and Foreign Affairs. After working for several years as a paralegal in Washington, D.C., she attended The University of Villanova School of Law and graduated in 2010. During law school, Melissa was involved in several public interest organizations and published an article in Villanova’s Environmental Law Journal, “Something Stinks: The Need for Environmental Regulation of Puppy Mills” 21 Vill. Envtl. L.J. 159 (2010) After law school, Melissa clerked for the Honorable Thomas G. Parisi, Administrative Judge of the Criminal Division in the Court of Common Pleas, Berks County. Melissa is the supervising attorney of the firm’s Appellate Unit. The Appellate Unit handles all aspects of the appellate process for family law cases as well as advanced research within the firm. Melissa and her husband, Paul, reside in Montgomery County with their two cats Wembley and Gobo. In her spare time, she enjoys audiobooks, barbeques, and watching action movies.