Wife Rights During Separation Before a Divorce

By Mike Broemmel

Updated June 13, 2017

Female Judge Reading Verdict

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Women contemplating divorce should understand their basic rights during and after divorce proceedings. You also need to know your basic rights during a period of separation before the divorce case commences. Although there are differences in some aspects of divorce law from one state to another, the basic rights of a wife during a separation period prior to a divorce are similar throughout the country.


A wife enjoys a variety of rights during a pre-divorce separation period, according to "Nolo's Essential Guide to Divorce," by Emily Doskow 1. These include rights involving children born during the marriage. Additionally, a wife's rights include access to and ability to utilize the assets of the marriage.

Time Frame

A wife's rights associated with a separation period prior to a divorce filing commence at the time she physically separates from her husband, according to "The Complete Divorce Handbook: A Practical Guide," by Brette McWhorter Sember 13. The length of time these rights remain valid depends on the statutory time frame that a couple must be separated in advance of divorcing. The time period is several weeks in some states and as long as a year in others.

Separation Agreements

A wife has the ability to seek and enter into a written agreement with her husband during a period of pre-divorce separation. Enforcement of such an agreement is undertaken in the same manner as any other contract. If the husband fails to honor the terms of the agreement, the wife can seek judicial intervention to enforce the instrument.


The primary effects of a wife's rights during a separation period prior to divorce involve maintaining the financial status quo, according to FindLaw. The laws of all states include provisions that prevent parties separating with the intent to divorce to misuse marital assets. For example, a wife's rights include not only having access to marital assets but protection against her husband draining a bank account for his benefit.

Expert Assistance

An overarching right of a wife during a separation period in advance of divorce proceedings is to consult with and retain a lawyer. Because of the emotional challenges and legal complexities associated with preparing for a divorce, a woman is wise to consider retaining legal counsel on a proactive basis. The American Bar Association provides resources designed to assist women facing divorce proceedings with finding and hiring lawyers.