Also called “judicial separation”, legal separation is a process by which a married couple may formalize a de facto separation legally. Granted in the form of a court order, the couple remain legally married during the process.
Legal separation is different from separation as it is a legally recognized status of your marriage. Thus, it requires filing documents with and appearing in court (much like the process of divorce). It is also important to note that a legal separation is viewed as an independent action and is not considered to be the first step in the divorce process.