Most but not all states recognize legal separation, according to HG Legal Resources. The states that do not recognize it include South Carolina, Georgia, Delaware, Florida, New Jersey, Maryland, Texas, Pennsylvania and Mississippi.
HG Legal Resources defines a legal separation as a situation in which a married couple lives apart in an arrangement formalized by either a written agreement or a court order. A legal separation does not nullify a marriage, but it may result in agreements regarding child custody, visitation and spousal support, also called alimony. Because a legal separation does not legally end a marriage, a couple may reunite after separating without having to get remarried.
While some states do not recognize legal separation, Florida family law attorney Sandra Bonfligio describes alternatives. One alternative is a postnuptial agreement, in which a couple specifies how finances and support will be handled in a future divorce. Another option is a separation agreement, which can act like a legal separation except it is not approved by a court.
Couples may choose a legal separation rather than a divorce if they religiously object to divorce, according to Divorce Recovery Suite. They may also choose legal separation if one party cannot cover necessary medical care without the other person. By staying legally married, one spouse can continue covering medical care for the other.