Legal Separation: The Difference Between Divorce And Separate Maintenence

Legal separation has a lot more meaning than what we see in the paper. If you look at the legal side of things, it varies depending on the state jurisdiction we are in.

In the state of Georgia, the legal system doesn’t recognize legal separation. Instead, the court can exercise what they called “separate maintenance.” So, what’s the difference between legal separation and separate maintenance? Well, let’s look at some details and play the role of a lawyer for a bit as we find out.

Separate maintenance is the separation of spouses without the need for any means of legally terminating or dissolving their marriage. However, there are certain stages before we reach this phase, and here they are:

● The marital relations already reached the end of the line. Even if the involved parties still live in the same house, they are not allowed to share the same bed.
● If the couple plans to file for divorce.
● Either one of the parties involved needs to take an oath and swear to the court that the couple really plans a state of separation. The court may then grant the parties involved separate maintenance.
● Separate maintenance is a lawsuit that is needed to address all related issues that have a direct bearing with both parties’ divorce decree.
● Child custody, support, and alimony are covered in separate maintenance cases.
● During separate maintenance, the marriage is still legal in the eyes of a lawyer. However, both parties don’t have any direct obligation to each other. There’s only one thing they need to consider, and that is, they cannot remarry while they are in the state of separate maintenance.
● A divorce is required to legally terminate the marriage, and it should come right after filing separate maintenance.


There are certain legalities before someone can opt for separate maintenance. In Georgia, for example, you or your spouse must meet the minimum residency requirement, which is six months before the divorce. If you haven’t met the standard, separate maintenance allows both of you to become legally apart until the divorce is finalized.

The issue of financial support and health insurance can quickly be sorted out with separate maintenance. On the other hand, most legal divorce won’t cover any financial assistance through the other spouse.

The state of Georgia also requires its citizens to have a valid marriage first before getting separate maintenance. It is also worth mentioning that the non-filing spouse must be the one to personally serve the documents needed. If it is not possible, well, the filing spouse will need to submit for a divorce instead.

You can file separate maintenance in the county of the defendant’s residence. When the case is uncontested, it can be filled in any of the county residences of either party.

There are cases that court agreements aren’t important for separate maintenance. The same can be said if both parties agree to both of their terms, and it can be considered as an uncontested separation. If the separation is considered contested, there is a chance that judges and attorneys are required to have a full session that will help decide if separate maintenance is necessary or not.

Materials based on Reeder Law Firm
Photo Sources: Garder and Lewis and Istock Photos