Legal Separation / Separate Maintenance
Legal separation is greatly misunderstood by non-attorneys. Legal separation is very similar to a divorce, save that you are still technically married, have the rights incident to marriage, but the marital community is destroyed, property / debts are assigned to spouses (final determination to be done in the divorce), and alimony can be awarded. Child custody and child support are also determined in a legal separation.
Why would people opt for a legal separation? Historically, people opted for a legal separation for religious reasons. Some religions do not recognize divorce. Still, peace needs to be kept, so legal separation is the remedy for that. Another reason is to maintain health insurance. Most health insurance providers permit coverage of spouses when there is a legal separation, but not if there is a divorce.
Parties must agree to a legal separation. If one spouse opts for divorce, divorce will prevail over a legal separation.
Peter is well-versed in legal separations and can guide you through the process if a legal separation is the best option.