Judgment of Separation

When people speak of a legal separation they are generally referring to a Judgment of Separation or living apart under the terms of a written separation agreement. To obtain a Judgment of Separation you need to start a lawsuit. A Judgment of Separation can be converted into a divorce, if the couple lives separately and apart pursuant to the Judgment of Separation and the party seeking the divorce adheres to all the requirements of the judgment for one year or more.

What are the grounds for Judgment of Separation?

The grounds for a Judgment of Separation are very similar to those for divorce, except there is no provision for “no-fault” separation. The plaintiff seeking the separation must allege one of the following grounds:

  • Cruel and inhuman treatment by defendant that endangers the physical or mental well-being of the complaining spouse to such an extent that it would be unsafe or improper for the spouses to live together;
  • Abandonment of the complaining spouse by the other spouse without cause or consent;
  • Neglect or refusal to provide for the support of the complaining spouse where the defending spouse is responsible for such support under the Family Court Act;
  • Adultery within five years of starting the lawsuit for a Judgment of Separation. Adultery must be without the consent of the complaining spouse;
  • Confinement of the defending spouse in prison for three or more consecutive years after the marriage began.

A judge may make the same orders in a Judgment of Separation with regard to spousal support, child support, child custody, child visitation, etc. that the judge could make in a divorce decree.

I want to file for a Judgment of Separation:

  • Determine on what grounds you wish to seek a Judgment of Separation.
  • Document the assets you brought to the marriage and have accumulated since the marriage.
  • Consult with an experienced matrimonial, divorce or family lawyer.

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

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