Severance Law and Legal Definition

Severance means to separate something, such as a court order to conduct separate trials for criminal defendants who were charged with the same crime, or trying the defendant's liability in a lawsuit separately from the damages. Separating issues in a trial is sometimes also called "bifurcation."

Severance is also used in the context of employment law to refer to separation from employment. If an employer creates a severance plan, the employees covered by the terms of the plan are entitled to the benefits that the plan provides upon the occurrence of the event that triggers benefits. However, an employer may create, modify or abolish a severance plan as it sees fit. Most employers choose to have no severance plan at all. If your employer has a severance plan, you are entitled to a written summary description of it. The plan description will tell you what, if anything, you are entitled to receive.