Legal separationLegal separation is a possible step towards divorce under United States law. A couple are legally separated if they have gotten a court to recognize their separation; simply living apart does not constitute separation for these purposes. A period of legal separation constitutes grounds for divorce; the length of that period varies from state to state.
Legal separation does not automatically lead to divorce. The couple may reconcile, in which case they need do nothing in order to remain married. If they do not reconcile, and wish to divorce after the statutory time period, they must file for divorce explicitly.