Legal Separation

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What is legal separation? After a breakup, why do some couples want a legal separation? Do the spouses have to be separated before they can file for divorce? 

Separation from Bed and Board

The official name for legal separation is "separation from bed and board."

Spouses who want a separation from bed and board must file a request in court. This request must be based on the fact that they don't want to live together anymore.

Separation from bed and board means that the spouses can do these things:

  • stay married without living together
  • decide on the consequences of their separation
  • get a court judgment (decision) that explains their rights and responsibilities

A separation court judgment can cover these issues:

Reasons Couples Apply for Separation

Here are some reasons why couples ask for legal separation:

  • One spouse wants to settle the consequences of the breakup as soon as possible but can't yet meet the legal requirements to ask for a divorce.
  • Divorce goes against the religious beliefs of one of the spouses.
  • One spouse isn't ready to permanently end the marriage.

Some Differences Between Divorce and Separation

The spouses don't have to be legally separated before filing for divorce: they can apply for a divorce without going through a separation first.

This table lists a few differences between separation and divorce.

Separation

Divorce

Spouses are still married.

It ends the marriage.

Spouses can't remarry.

The spouses can remarry.

The spouses will inherit from one other if one of them dies without a will.

They do not inherit from one another if one dies without a will.

The spouses owe each other the gifts made in their marriage contract, unless the separation judgment says differently.

They do not inherit from one another if one dies without a will.

Important !
This article explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. This article is not a legal opinion or legal advice. To find out the specific rules for your situation, consult a lawyer or notary.

Articles in the category "Separated But Still Married"