Legal Separation in Ohio

Divorce and Family Law

Legal Separation in Ohio
THERE SEEMS TO BE A LOT OF CONFUSION surrounding the term legal separation as it is used in Ohio. The reason for this confusion is simple. The term “legal separation” is often used three different ways in the family law setting. Below you will find a brief summary of these uses, as well as the major legal ramifications of each.

Living Separate And Apart

TO LIVE SEPARATE AND APART, a husband and wife need not take any official legal action. The parties merely need separate residences and to maintain financial independence from one another.

When filling out general forms, applications, and documents, the parties may indicate that they are separated, but not that they are legally separated, as the term “legal separation” has a different legal meaning. Living separate and apart prior to filing for divorce may provide the opportunity to make an argument that the marriage ended upon the separation.

A victories argument would prevent any assets acquired after the separation from being considered marital assets. This risk is that if this argument is denied, the divorce court can count any period that the parties lived separate and apart as a marital period for property division, debt allocation, and spousal support purposes.

Legal Separation

A LEGAL SEPARATION IS an actual cause of action in the Ohio family law courts. A person must file a complaint with the proper domestic relations court in order to initiate a legal separation.

The matter can be contested, whereby the parties litigate issues like property distribution, debt allocation, spousal support, and all child related matter. A legal separation can also be agreed, whereby the parties consent to the aforementioned items.

A legal separation is a way to determine all of the issues arising from the marriage, as would be the case in a divorce, but allows the parties to actually remain married for reasons like religious beliefs or insurance purposes.

If a subsequent divorce is filed by either spouse, all of the issues have been already been determined, so the family law court only needs to adopt the legal separation decree to complete the divorce.

Legal Separation Agreement

IN ORDER TO SECURE DISSOLUTION, a person must file a petition for dissolution, as well as a Legal Separation Agreement. This separation agreement is a legal document that determines all marital issues, including property division, debt allocation, and child related issues.

The parties must agree to each and every provision contained in the document and sign consenting to be bound by the terms. Upon the conclusion of the dissolution, the family law judge adopts the provisions of the legal separation agreement and orders the provisions legally binding upon the parties.


EACH DIVORCE ACTION CAN BE DIFFERENT. Just like most areas of domestic relations law in Ohio, it is easy to see how the term legal separation can be a confusing topic. Not having the proper understanding of the topic could lead to improper results.

It is always best to seek the advice of a skilled family law attorney when exploring options. To learn more about a legal separation in Ohio, feel free to contact one of our divorce and custody attorneys today for your free telephone consultation.