Mediating Legal Separation

When you and your spouse want to separate but are not yet ready to divorce, you may be considering a legal separation. Legal separation allows you to legally define your respective property rights, financial obligations, and any child-related matters.  This is important because, for example, it protects both parties from incurring additional debt or other financial loss that occurs after the legal separation is approved.

Is Legal Separation Mediation Different from Divorce Mediation?

While legal separation is different from divorce, the mediation process is the same. Legal separation ends the community property rights and marital obligations, but the couple remains married until they decide to either reconcile or formally divorce.  If the couple reconciles, the legal separation can be dissolved and if the couple decides to formally divorce much of the details have already been worked out which will make the divorce process go more quickly.

What Happens in Legal Separation Mediation?

During mediation for legal separation assets and debt will be divided, debts will be allocated, child and spousal support determined, and custody/parenting arrangements arranged for minor children.  Because legal separation does not dissolve a marriage like divorce does, there are often many fresh emotions including sadness and anger that have not yet been resolved.  And, because the decision to divorce has not yet been reached the uncertainty of the situation can leave everyone anxious.  A divorce mediator, especially one with backgrounds in psychology and law, is experienced in navigating the complicated dynamics of both legal separation and divorce.

During legal separation mediation, both parties will have an opportunity to be heard fully and discuss any issues that they want to feel as comfortable and safe during the process as possible.  Further, the mediator will protect the interests of both parties as well as any children involved.  In court-based legal separation, couples often surrender control of the situation to their attorneys and/or a judge. But, with legal separation mediation, the safe and collaborative environment makes legal separation less stressful.

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