My friend who is a non-citizen married a US citizen. But it’s not working out. Can he file for a legal separation without affecting his status as a student and application for citizenship?

Although separation proceedings can be maintained on the same grounds as dissolution actions, a judgment of legal separation does not terminate marital status. It is an alternative to dissolution and is generally sought upon breakdown of the marriage where for a variety of personal reasons the petitioner does not want the legal status relationship absolutely severed. A judgment of legal separation leaves the marriage bonds intact.

In effect, however, the parties remain “married” in name only, without the concomitant rights and responsibilities that attach to marital status. They cannot enter into a new marriage unless and until the existing marriage is dissolved by death or judgment of dissolution.

Also, the court may not enter a judgment of legal separation on a petition requesting same unless both parties consent thereto … except where the respondent has not made a general appearance (Fam.C. § 2345).

When considering legal separation, work with an experienced Divorce and Family Lawyer to better understand the issues and effects of the judgment, and the necessary steps to take.

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