If you and your spouse are considering getting a divorce, it's a good idea to review all your options and look into the possibility of a legal separation in lieu of an actual divorce. Each legal designation has its own benefits and it's important to understand each fully before you make a decision to move forward with one over the other. In both cases, a skilled family law attorney can guide you through the process and help you understand your options.
What is Legal Separation?
Legal separation is a binding agreement between married people that allows them to live apart from one another, establish custody and financial arrangements, but remain legally married.
What is the Difference Between Legal Separation and Divorce?
A divorce is a legal dissolution of a marriage as ordered by a court. It is binding and irreversible. A legal separation, on the other hand, can carry many of the same provisions as a divorce (including custody arrangements, spousal support, child support, and division of assets), but does not permanently end the marriage and can be reversed.
Reasons for Legal Separation
There are a number of reasons that a married couple may choose to get a legal separation instead of a divorce.
Get some space
In some cases the couple knows they can no longer be together or live together, but they are not ready for the finality of divorce. Perhaps there is a chance of reconciliation in the future, or there could be religious or cultural factors that prohibit a divorce.
Buys you more time
Other times, the couple simply needs more time before they want to file for divorce, but they want a legally binding agreement in the meantime to ensure the division of wealth or custody arrangements are equitable and enforceable.
Maintain legal privileges
Legal separation also allows a couple to maintain some of the legal privileges that a married couple has, such as inheritance or in some cases health insurance. A legal separation preserves these rights, while also protecting each party from certain liabilities like the debt of the other spouse. This is another reason a couple may choose legal separation over divorce.
It's important to point out that even though you may be legally separated from your spouse, you will still need to keep the lines of communication open as you will continue to share many responsibilities which may include property, investments, or children. Neither party may remarry while legally separated, and its advised to remain civil with your spouse while separated.
How to File for Legal Separation
Filing for legal separation is very similar to filing for divorce, and in many cases the steps and fees that are associated with each process will be similar. In either case, it's best to enlist the council of a qualified family law attorney who can walk you through the steps you'll need to complete the separation. They will be able to outline the benefits and drawbacks of both a legal separation and a divorce and give you legal guidance to choose the best path forward for you and your family.
If you are considering a divorce or a legal separation it can help getting advice from an experienced family law attorney. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.