Many people see legal separation as a step towards a divorce and, while that is possible, so is an important legal process in their own right. For this reason, it is important that couples understand their rights and the legal effects of their separation.
Issues related to a legal separation
A marriage may decide to separate or live separately at any time, without authorization from the court. However, when the couple announces their attempt to live separately in court, then they are seeking legal separation.
Since a legal separation is a judicial proceeding, there are issues that must be decided by a judge. For example, issues such as child custody, child support and spousal support are usually decided in legal separations. However, it is important to note that all of these things can be reviewed or retracted if the couple seeks a divorce.
Differences between divorces and legal separations
The parties involved in a legal separation are legally bound to comply with the terms of the court order, but are still considered a married couple because they do not have a divorce decree.
Furthermore, a legal separation is often ordered without any delay by the court, because the consequences of a separation are not permanent. In many states, couples wishing to divorce will only be granted divorce after a waiting period has elapsed. The waiting period is to make sure the couple truly wanted the divorce and end their marriage. Since a separation does not end a marriage, it can be revoked by mutual consent of the spouses, without requiring a waiting period.
Separations are often requested by couples who no longer want to live together as a husband and wife, but who wish to retain certain benefits of marriage, such as tax benefits, Social Security, or retirement pensions, and by those couples who for religious reasons they oppose divorce, as well as for couples who are not sure of requesting divorce.
How to request a legal separation
A legal separation is an important legal procedure that can have an immediate impact on your life and can influence divorce proceedings. For this reason, it is important to consult with a family law attorney before requesting a legal separation. Your lawyer will help you file a petition or legal separation in court that will include how you would like matters related to the finances and custody of the children to be handled during your separation. If your husband has no objections, then the court will probably grant separation.
However, if the spouse objects to the separation or the conditions of the separation, then it is likely that a hearing will be held before the separation is granted, unless both spouses agree to privately work their issues or seek the help of a mediator Once both spouses agree and sign the separation agreement, it will be approved by a judge, presented to the court and the parties will be legally separated and legally bound by the terms of the separation agreement.
Talk to a lawyer qualified in Family Law today
This article is intended to be useful and informative, but legal issues can become complicated and stressful. A lawyer qualified in family law can attend to your particular legal needs, explain the law and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a qualified family law attorney near you to discuss your particular legal situation.