A legal separation is the physical and actual separation of an otherwise legally married couple. This is often the precursor to a divorce or annulment. Once you initiate a legal separation, however, you and your spouse may reconcile or decide that you do not want to end your marriage after all. If this happens, you can reverse your legal separation and return to your joint status, provided neither of you has initiated a divorce.
Steps to Reverse a Legal Separation
Discuss the matter with your spouse. To reverse a legal separation successfully, you and your spouse must both agree.
Obtain a copy of the original Order (or Judgment) of Legal Separation, if you do not already have one. You can request this from the clerk of the family court where you first filed for the legal separation. If the judge has not yet entered an order, you will not be able to reverse the legal separation as you and your spouse are not legally separated.
Draft a Motion to Vacate Order of Legal Separation. Include a caption for the legal separation matter at the top along with the docket number. Review your jurisdiction’s rules for motions and pleadings to see how your motion should be styled. Remember, your motion can be rejected for filing if it is not completed properly.
Continue your motion underneath the caption. State that you and your spouse no longer wish to be legally separated, that you have reconciled and that your marriage has not yet been dissolved (meaning you have not filed for and finalized a divorce). You can draft this yourself without the help of an attorney. Examples are available online which can be used as a guide. Both you and your spouse will need to sign the motion.
Draft an Order to Vacate Order of Legal Separation. This should be included at the end of your motion for the judge to sign. The order does not need to be detailed; state something simple such as, “The above-entitled action is ordered vacated.” Be sure to include space for the judge to date and sign the order.
File the Motion and Order to Vacate with the clerk of the family court where your legal separation was filed. Include a copy of your original Order of Legal Separation when filing. A filing fee is due at the time of filing, which must be paid before your motion will be accepted.
- "Family Law, 9th Edition;" William Statsky; 2008
- "The Uniform Marriage & Divorce Act;" J. Gell; 2003
Carrie Ferland is a practicing civil litigation defense attorney in the Philadelphia Area. As an author, her work has been featured in various legal publications for over 10 years. Ferland is a 2000 graduate of Pennsylvania State University and completed her Juris Doctorate and Master of Business Administration with the Dickinson School of Law. She is currently pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in English.