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Does a legal separation indicate the end of a marriage?

If you decide that you no longer wish to be married to your spouse, there are several actions you may take in Wisconsin. You may seek an annulment, but there are only a few reasons a court may authorize this procedure. Two more common options are divorce and legal separation. While there are some similarities between these two actions, there is one significant difference: A divorce indicates the end of the marriage, but a legal separation does not.

According to the Wisconsin Court System, the official processes for legal separation and divorce are similar. You have to fill out and submit the right forms and undergo a waiting period of 120 days. A court may require both you and your spouse to provide information about why you are requesting a legal separation instead of a divorce. You and your spouse may also have to agree under oath that the marriage is broken.

Once a court grants your legal separation, you and your spouse may live separately. The court may make judgments similar to those in a divorce, such as custody of minors and child support. However, separation does not indicate an end to your marriage. You may not marry another person during the separation. Additionally, you and your spouse may choose to reconcile and reinstate your marriage at any point. If you and your spouse agree to divorce, you may file the legal motion at any time during your separation. After one year of legal separation, conversion to divorce only requires one spouse's consent. State law prohibits you from remarrying until six months after your divorce is official.

While this information on separation should not be interpreted as legal advice, it may help you understand how the process works in Wisconsin.

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