If your marriage has hit a rough patch, you may be considering your options for ending the relationship. If you are not sure whether you want to divorce, then you may be interested in separation.

The state of West Virginia does not recognize legal separation; instead, it has something called separate maintenance. In this blog post, we will go over the definition of separate maintenance so that you can determine whether it is right for you.

What is separate maintenance?

Separate maintenance is a similar concept to legal separation. You can petition the court for a property distribution settlement and spousal support just as you would with a divorce, but you remain legally married to your spouse. To file for separate maintenance, you must provide the court with grounds for the separation. Then, you can formally request a court decision regarding child custody and other critical issues.

Is separate maintenance right for me?

Your marriage is unique, so only you can determine whether separate maintenance is best for your situation. It might be a good fit for you if:

  • You want to see what it is like to live separately from your spouse
  • You and your spouse might reconcile
  • You need a temporary arrangement regarding custody, spousal support or property division
  • Your spouse is not ready for a divorce
  • You are not ready to permanently divorce

The court will grant separate maintenance only after you and your spouse have lived separately for at least one year. If you reconcile within that period, then you must start the process all over again.

If, after reading this, you believe that separate maintenance is a good option for you, then you may wish to contact a lawyer. An attorney can help you understand your options, explain the law to you and guide you in your decisions.