Should You Legally Separate Before Divorce?

When you have been considering ending your marriage, there may be various reasons holding you back from actually filing for divorce. Divorce is a long, draining, and costly undertaking but if you need to legally define upper relationship and/or family responsibilities, financial obligations, etc. in the interim – for however long that might be – legal separation may be the best option. Even if you know you will eventually file for divorce (as happens in the vast majority of legal separation cases), filing for legal separation for a period may be in everyone’s best interests.

In most day-to-day ways, legal separation is very similar to divorce but there are a number of reasons you may consider legally separating for a period of time or even indefinitely. Those reasons often include things like religious beliefs about divorce, retaining medical and other insurance benefits, maintaining social security benefits, tax benefits, protecting financial interests, etc. And, while couples could certainly be separated without a legal agreement, a legal separation helps further protect financial interests by legally outlining alimony payments, child support payments, child custody agreements, property division, etc. and making them enforceable in a court of law. A formal agreement also protects you in the even that your spouse accumulates new debt which is important because without it you could be held responsible by creditors for that ‘marital debt.’

Because legal separation is so similar to divorce, it is best to work with an experienced mediator that can guide you and your spouse to a fair and mutually agreeable legal separation. And, should you choose to divorce after having already legally separated, that agreement can be used to help streamline and expedite your divorce. Speak to an experienced separation and divorce mediator that can assist you in finding a solution that best meets your needs and protects your interests.

What are separate and apart requirements?

Each state requires couples to live apart for a while before they can file for divorce. The Separate and Apart period help the judge finalize the proceedings. Since the rules differ from one state to another, it is essential to learn the requirements. They must also understand the exceptions involved in this process to avoid any calamitous outcomes. Partners should stay apart without cohabitation for atleast a year before proceeding with any legal separation proceedings.

How to decide separation?

Once the decision about separation is made, partners should move out of their family home. Especially if a household consists of minor children, pending divorce may affect their growth and development. Therefore, spouses should find another residence and bring in active caretakers for their kids. Bird nesting is another option that allows parent to live with their children on alternate days. If partners cannot agree on this process, they can seek the help of the court. Seeking legal counsel is essential to make practical decisions without any emotional influences. This also helps to find a supportive friend or colleague to endure grieving.

What are the different types of separation?
Preliminary Trial

If partners decide to take a break from their relationship, they should live apart for a while and decide between divorce and reconciliation. The legal rules apply during this separation phase as well. In terms of property ownership, it is considered jointly and owned between both of them. The property ownership decision may also depend upon on the state’s rule. It is also a good idea to come up with an informal agreement to deal with issues in a positive manner. If the spouses have kids, making major decisions before trial separation could avoid any problems in the future.

Permanent separation

Once partners have decided for permanent separation, they are responsible for conducting all necessary proceedings. The assets and debts division should be decided as quickly as possible if the separation occurs before divorce litigation. The prompt financial actions are essential for long-term reconciliation. Once separated, they can make basic agreements for their joint assets. Some individuals may stay in relationship due to insurance considerations. However, this choice makes them responsible for any repercussions in later stages.

Legal proceedings

People can get a legal separation by filing in family courts. The status of legal separation is different from both marriage and divorce. But, the court deals with this problem in the same manner as other divorce cases. It includes property division, alimony, and child support. Some couples may opt for legal separation and live their lives happily for many years.

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