Legal Separation Lawyers

Authored by , LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

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Most Common Family Law Issues:

What Is Legal Separation?

Legal separation is a formal judgment issued by a court of law that all the issues concerning a marriage have been resolved. A legal separation judgment leaves the couple with the legal status of married persons while settling the respective rights and obligations that each spouse has to the other. Spouses who are legally separated are not free to marry since neither has been returned to the legal status of an unmarried person.

The most common issues dealt with during a legal separation proceeding in court are child custody, child visitation, child support, spousal support, distribution of property, attorney fees, and personal conduct. The only issue that remains untouched is the marital status of the spouses.

Why Would Spouses Want to Pursue Legal Separation?

Legal separation is usually pursued when the parties want to stay married for religious reasons, want the advantage of deductibility of spousal support payments for income tax reasons, or do not want to wait the state statutory waiting period for termination of marital status. For some people, a legal separation is desired to set the parameters for dealing with one another while living separate and apart (especially with respect to continuing support obligations and child sharing issues) while maintaining the status of being married. Spouses also may wish to leave the door open for a reunion of marriage.

Is Legally Separation the Same as Divorce?

Legal separation is not the same thing as divorce and is not always a prerequisite to obtaining a dissolution of marriage (i.e. divorce).

Do I Need an Attorney?

Depending on what state you reside in, separations often require a court hearing. Thus, it will be essential that you retain an attorney experienced in family law. Speaking with an attorney can assist you in establishing all rights and responsibilities concerning the children and each spouse's debts and assets. Meeting with the proper lawyer will help you understand your rights as well as preserve any possible remedies you may have.

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Last Modified: 02-03-2014 03:56 PM PST

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