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How is Massachusetts law different regarding legal separation?

When considering separating from your partner, you may have to make the difficult decision of a legal separation versus a divorce. In Massachusetts, however, you may be facing different standards than the commonly accepted concepts of separation or divorce. So just how is Massachusetts different regarding legal separation?

The primary difference is that Massachusetts does not have legal separations at all, according to Mass.gov. Instead Massachusetts has a number of options for divorce, but there is no separate legal state of being separated but still married. Instead, Massachusetts falls back on the default assumption that it is legal to live apart from your spouse, so in essence by the simple act of moving into separate households you and your spouse are legally separated.

However, Massachusetts does have something called "separate support." In separate support cases, you remain married yet live apart as if legally separated without pursuing a complete divorce. However, separate support gives you the option to pursue legally mandated support from your spouse while preventing your spouse from interfering with your life and actions. This ensures financial protections for yourself and your children without allowing your spouse to place any limitations on those protections by right of marriage.

Several instances can make you eligible for separate support. Cases of spousal abandonment, failure of spousal support or separate living situations for "justifiable cause" mean you can file for spousal support. Multiple considerations qualify as justifiable cause, including adultery and abuse.

Please consider this blog post a reference topic only, and not a substitute for valid legal counsel.

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