Legal separation is a formal judgment issued by a court of law that all the issues concerning a marriage have been resolved. Legal separation does not end a marriage or domestic partnership, Spouses that seek legal separation do not want to get a divorce, but want to live apart and decide on money, property, and parenting issues while separated.. 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 separation issues dealt with in court involve:
- child custody
- child visitation
- child support
- spousal support
- distribution of property
- attorney fees
- and personal conduct
What Are the Benefits Legal Separation?
Legal separation is usually pursued when the parties want to stay married for the time being while they decide on money, property, and parenting issues while separated. There are several advantages that many pursue legal separation. The benefits for legal separation are as follows:
- Spouses can still enjoy the benefits of the marriage such as spouse’s health care plan or military benefits.
- Remaining legally married for 10 years qualifies couples certain social security benefits.
- During the legally separated period, both parties can resolve their disputes and difference to either resume the marriage or file for a formal divorce.
- Some religions do not allow divorce or divorce is not recognized and legal separation allows religious couples to live separate lives while remaining married.
- Couples who are uncertain of divorce may seek legal separation to resolve an immediate problem.
What Are the Disadvantages of Legal Separation?
Even though legal separation can have its benefits, there are also some disadvantages. When you are legally separated and are living apart from your spouse, you can still be liable for your spouse's debts. The best way to resolve this issue to create a legal separation agreement that would address this and limit your liability on your spouse's debt during separation period.
Is Legal Separation the Same as Divorce?
Legal separation is not the same thing as divorce and is not always a prerequisite to obtaining dissolution of marriage (i.e. divorce). A legal separation does not end a marriage, but a formal divorce or dissolution of marriage ends a marriage or domestic partnership. Legally separated couples may also leave the door open for reunion of marriage.
Legal separation enables couples to live separately, but remain married. During the time the couple is legally separated, they have a court order that outlines the obligations, rights, and responsibilities of each spouse. In addition, a legal separation protects your interests as a legally married couple, until a formal decision is made to file for a divorce.
Do I Need an Attorney for a Legal Separation?
Not every legal separation is the same and there are several factors and steps that must be determined to ensure that the legal separation period is effectively spent. It will be essential that you retain an experienced family law attorney. 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.