For quarreling couples, divorce may not be in the vocabulary. This may change, however, if the fighting escalates and the marriage becomes more difficult to maintain. A legal separation may be something worth considering for a variety of reasons. Find out more about what the implications are of becoming legally separated before divorce.
Why Get Legally Separated?
A legal separation may not be an option in every state: it may be required. Some state laws require that a couple become legally separated before they can go through a divorce. There are other times that a legal separation should be considered, such as:
- A couple is not sure they want to divorce
- A couple wants to memorialize financial and child arrangements
- A couple cannot afford a divorce
- One spouse has a medical problem and needs to remain on the other spouse’s insurance
Religious beliefs may also play a part in whether a couple considers a legal separation.
What Does a Legal Separation Entail?
When a couple decides to separate, they must consider how to move forward concerning many complicated issues. A separation agreement acts as a contract between spouses concerning money, property and children while living apart. At this point, consider getting a lawyer to draft the document. Attorneys understand the complex nature of legal documents and what will be in the parties’ best interests. Some states require a separation agreement before granting a divorce. In these instances, it becomes the foundation of the divorce proceeding. If an element of the separation agreement was hastily agreed to without legal advice, the couple might be stuck with it should a divorce proceed.
Do Spouses Live Apart?
While a legal separation contemplates a life apart while still legally married, this is not always the case. Some couples may be legally separated but reside under the same roof as roommates rather than a couple. However, as a divorce attorney can clarify, in states that require a legal separation before divorce, the spouses must prove they lived in different homes for the statutorily stated time. Most states require at least six months before physical separation, but some require a year.
Even a legally savvy person may want to consider getting assistance when legally separating. Divorce lawyers understand how state laws work and what is required before the divorce. Divorce attorneys will always advocate for their clients, thereby becoming a great ally through a difficult period.