The Myth and Legend, Legal Separation
I'm often asked during consults if a couple can get a legal separation.
I routinely explain that we have no such thing in Pennsylvania: a couple can dissolve their marriage only through divorce proceedings or annulment proceedings. In either type of case, the parties may be "separated," but are still married by law and have all of the legal benefits and obligations that go with marriage.
That is not to say that "separation" is not a key term in Pennsylvania divorce law. It is - in either divorce or annulment, the "date of separation" is a crucial event to take note of. This date can dramatically affect the value of marital assets and debts that will be divided, can define the time a party may collect spousal support, can affect allegations of marital misconduct in fault divorces, can be a determining factor in whether a party is entitled to an annulment at all (since cohabitation after discovery of a defect in the marriage can bar some types of annulment), and so much more.