By Mike Stetzer
Making the decision to file for divorce is often one of the most difficult decisions a person can face. For the millions of Americans who are in an unhappy marriage, but don’t feel like divorce is the best fit, the lesser known option of legal separation may be a possibility.
If you're in an unhappy marriage, you can talk to a family law attorney and get advice about your situation. A local attorney may explain how the laws in your state may determine how soon you could file divorce, and what to expect afterward.
Connect with a lawyer today. Simply fill in the case review form below to get started.
Unlike a divorce decree, legal separation doesn't end a marriage. When legal separation is sought, it is essentially to get a court ordered list of the rights and obligations of each party.
While laws vary by state, legal separation essentially allows the couple to remain married, but determine important obligations. The issues typically covered by legal separation can vary from division of assets and debts to child support and custody and even spousal support.
If a divorce does eventually follow legal separation, the agreement reached in legal separation may act as precedent in the divorce. The rights and obligations set forth in a legal separation will often be used by the judge in determining the divorce obligations, which may lead to a quicker and less contentious divorce.
Legal separation is a non-final option for couples that are unhappy with their current marital status, but are not prepared to take the full step for divorce.
By utilizing legal separation, you may be able to have time away from your spouse to determine if a divorce is really the best solution for you. But legal separation allows you to maintain medical and tax benefits of a married couple.
However, if one of the reasons you are pursuing a legal separation over divorce is to maintain health insurance benefits, do your research. Not all health insurance plans will cover both spouses if they file for legal separation. The same goes for pension accounts and retirement benefits.
Also, for people with certain religious views, legal separation can appeal as a viable alternative to divorce.
There are many considerations involved in deciding whether to legally separate or file for divorce.
If you and your spouse are considering filing for divorce, you can talk to a divorce attorney about your options. A local divorce attorney may help you learn your rights during and after a divorce, and how state laws may affect your divorce case.
Connecting with a divorce attorney in your area is easy—simply fill out the case review form below to get started.