separation, in law, either the voluntary agreement of husband and wife to live apart or a partial dissolution of the marriage relation by court order. The marriage bond remains, and remarriage of either party is criminal. The separated parties will ordinarily be bound by the provisions of an agreement respecting the amount to be paid for separate maintenance and the adjustment of their property rights. Separation by court decree is a divorce a mensa et thora [from bed and board]; the parties are forbidden to live together, and the wife may have a right to alimony. The laws of the states of the United States vary greatly as to separation; generally, jurisdictions where divorce is difficult to obtain have a more lenient policy toward legal separation than do jurisdictions with easier divorce laws. The main grounds for legal separation are adultery, cruelty, and desertion.

Division of the legislative, executive, and judicial functions of government among separate and independent bodies. Such a separation limits the possibility of arbitrary excesses by government, since the sanction of all three branches is required for the making, executing, and administering of laws. The concept received its first modern formulation in the work of Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu, who declared it the best way to safeguard liberty; he influenced the framers of the Constitution of the United States, who in turn influenced the writers of 19th- and 20th-century constitutions. Seealso checks and balances.

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Separation may refer to several different subjects:

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