Limited divorce is also referred to as a legal separation. A limited divorce is a legal action where a couple’s separation is supervised by the court. It is generally designated for individuals who do not have grounds for absolute divorce, need financial relief and are unable to settle their differences privately. A legal separation can involve a court order declaring that a couple is no longer living together, and that all the issues concerning the marriage have been resolved (child custody, child visitation, child support, spousal support, distribution of property, attorney fees, and personal conduct), but the marital status of the couple remains unchanged. A legal separation may be sought by a couple who wish to stay legally married to protect significant religious, financial, social or legal interests. Most jurisdictions require a waiting or "cooling off" period before a court will issue a divorce judgment, but there is not ordinarily a waiting period before a court may issue an order of "legal separation" or "separate maintenance". Spouses who are separated may not remarry since they are still married under the law.
Limited divorce is sometimes helpful for religious purposes. When a limited divorce is granted, a court may order spousal and child support, award use and possession of the marital home and certain types of personal property. State law varies, but under some laws, the court may decide the ownership or order the sale and division of proceeds of personal property, but not real property. The court may also determine the temporary custody of minor children.