Legal separation and divorce provide two options for married couples who want to separate for long term. Although they have many things in common, the filing process varies and how each option is finalized also varies.
If you and your partner are considering going your different ways, you may find it beneficial to review both the processes to find out the one that is most suitable for your particular situation. In this article we have explored the two options including what you need to know about them before deciding which way to go.
Definition of legal separation
A legal separation is a binding agreement in the form of a court order that specifies the way the parting couple is going to share their assets, liabilities and other financial matters. A legal separation is a way to make a marriage separation formal without the finality of a divorce.
Separated couples frequently live at different residences, and it can be difficult to differentiate their lives from those who are divorced. The major difference between legal separation and divorce is that legal separation can be upturned through a fairly simple process. It helps the spouses to move on with their lives before taking the final step of divorce. Legally separated spouses can also continue to obtain family health insurance plans and tax benefits for married tax filers.
Legal separation process
Similar to a divorce, a separation agreement specifies the financial obligations and limits to liability of both the parties to the marriage. If kids are involved, it also includes arrangements for child custody, child care and financial obligations about children.
The process for legal separation is much similar to divorce but differs to some extent among states, though they have some related features nationwide.
Married couples who want a legal separation must file a signed petition in county court. If the two parties sign the petition, they would need to subsequently submit extra forms to specify agreed provisions for child support, financial support and the sharing of jointly owned property. If it is only one party that wants to enter into a legal separation, that spouse can file the petition himself or herself and provide the partner with notice of intent to legally separate and enter into a court proceeding related to the divorce proceedings.
If you decide to progress to divorce, the components of your legal separation will be considered legally binding by the courts, thus, try to make all the necessary preparations and include everything that needs to be included.
Legal separation is not recognized by all states in the US.
- A few states need it before divorce.
- Other states recognize it, but do not oblige it.
- A few states do not permit it as an option.
Definition of divorce
A divorce is a permanent dissolution of direct marital relationship and family ties between two formerly married individuals. In divorce proceedings, spouses can come to an agreement upon the division of property, child-custody rights and financial support responsibilities, or they can enter into a court proceeding where the judge decrees on these challenging issues. A divorce permits each spouse to remarry or date other people without being seen as an infidel. While in a legal separation, couples are not allowed to remarry or date someone else.
After you have filed papers for the dissolution of marriage, the spouse who filed the paper must serve the partner with a notice. The served spouse can sign a voluntary appearance document to consent to the development or file an answer indicating the desire to continue the marriage. After this, the divorce proceedings look much similar to other civil trials, passing from an initial hearing stage, to the discovery process and finally to a bench trial if the parties cannot reach agreement through negotiation, expert advice or independent evaluation.
If you are considering choosing between a legal separation and divorce, you may need to seek advice from a family law attorney, tax advisor, financial planner and or accountant to find answers to your peculiar questions.