temporary separation

Temporary separation is a legal option for couples who need time apart to resolve personal or marital issues without immediately pursuing divorce. This article will explain what temporary separation is, when it might be needed, and how it differs from divorce.

What is Temporary Separation?

Temporary separation, or legal separation, is a legal status where a married couple lives apart for a period while remaining legally married. It allows couples to take a break from their relationship, address personal issues, or undergo counseling without the finality of divorce.

Utah Requirements

Either spouse can petition the court for a temporary separation order if the spouses are still legally married and both spouses have lived in Utah for at least 90 days.

Utah Code Section


A legal temporary separation order is valid for one year from the date of the hearing, unless the case is dismissed during that period. If a spouse files for divorce while the temporary order is in effect, the separation order will continue until the divorce is finalized.

What Does an Order Include?

A temporary separation order can include parameters for:

  • Child Custody and Visitation
  • Child Support
  • Spousal Support
  • Division of Assets and Debts
  • Living Arrangements
  • Insurance and Benefits
  • Financial Responsibilities
  • Behavioral Agreements

When is Temporary Separation Needed?

It may be used for several reasons, including:

  • When couples are facing marital problems but are not ready to end the marriage.
  • To preserve tax or federal benefits (e.g., employer-sponsored health care).
  • To allow for individual growth or to address personal issues, such as mental health or addiction.
  • To promote stability for minor children.
  • To address religious, social, or moral objections to divorce.

Is Temporary Separation Used Instead of Divorce?

Temporary separation is not a substitute for divorce but rather a step that some couples may take before making the final decision. It provides a structured environment for resolving issues while maintaining legal protections and obligations.

Can I Still Get Divorced?

Yes, couples who choose temporary separation can still decide to proceed with a divorce later. The separation period can help them make an informed decision about whether to reconcile or formally end the marriage. The terms of the temporary separation can also serve as a basis for divorce agreements.

Legal and Financial Considerations

  • Legal Agreements: During temporary separation, couples often create legal agreements regarding child custody, support, and property division.
  • Financial Support: Temporary separation agreements may include spousal support and child support arrangements.
  • Living Arrangements: Couples need to decide on living arrangements and how to handle shared responsibilities.


Temporary separation offers couples a way to take a step back and assess their relationship without immediately opting for divorce. It provides time and space to work through issues while maintaining legal protection. If you’re considering temporary separation, consult with a legal professional to understand your options and ensure your rights are protected.

Contact Christensen Law for Separation Needs

Call (801) 303-5800 or utilize our online contact form to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.

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