Does a legal separation freeze assets and debts at the time of filing?

The short answer is: NO

There are big difference between divorce and “separation”. MA does not have a provision for legal separation—only for Separate Support. Which means if you want to stay married but live apart, support orders can be entered which can include child custody and child support as well other provisions. However, the distribution of marital assets are not considered when a separate support application is filed with the Probate & Family court unless there is abandonment by the defendant spouse.

If you are concerned with treatment of property and assets should you and your spouse part ways, you are better off filing a Complaint for Divorce, which places an automatic stay on both parties restraining the sale, transfer, gifting or dissipation of assets or the further accrual of further marital debt to may have to be divided. 

Legal Separation is treated differently in different states.  MA does not have provisions for legal separation, while New York, on the other hand allows a legal separation to be converted into a divorce after a 12-month period.

You should consult with a local divorce attorney familiar with divorce and separation laws in your state about your concerns and rights.

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