Proceedings for separation from bed and board, commonly referred to as a “legal separation”, are instituted when the will of the spouses to live together is seriously undermined.

Proof that the will to live together is undermined may be made by both spouses, or either one, in presenting facts to the court that it is difficult to tolerate living together, where the spouses are living apart, or where the other spouse is shown to have gravely failed to perform an obligation of the marriage.

The rights and obligations of parents towards their children are unaffected by separation from bed and board.  If the spouses cannot agree on the custody and support of their children, then they are required to attend a family mediation information session.  Couples with children are entitled to six free mediation sessions with a licensed family mediator.

If the spouses resume living together for a period of more than ninety days pursuant to the institution of proceedings, they are presumed to have reconciled and there is a basis for ending the proceedings.

A judgment that grants separation from bed and board releases the spouses from their marital obligation to live with one another and allows each to have separate ownership of their respective property, as well as separate liability for debts.  However, the judgment does not end the marriage.

The effects of the separation are retroactive to the date when proceedings were instituted, unless the court decides that they should be retroactive to the date on which the spouses stopped living together.

The above is intended to provide general information and is not to be taken as legal advice for a particular situation.  If you require a legal opinion, please contact an attorney.