Is Legal Separation The Best Option For You?
Is your marriage on the rocks? Perhaps you are unhappy with your relationship, but not quite willing to call it quits? There is an option short of divorce that may fit your circumstances quite well: legal separation.
What is a Legal Separation?
When couples become legally separated, it is very much like a divorce, in that the court issues a judgment relating to the separation of property, custody and visitation issues, and support issues. The only real difference is that at the end of the day, the couple remains married.
What’s the Point?
Some may wonder why it’s worth contemplating a legal separation at all. Why not just take a break for a few months if a split is under serious consideration? For many couples struggling in their marriage, that may be a valid point. For others, a legal separation can provide needed security while individual space is afforded. This can be essential in certain situations. For instance:
- Imagine one partner takes a job in another city or state. The remaining partner isn’t sure about the move, but will require child support while envisioning the possibilities ahead. There is a chance the couple will reunite, but it’s not guaranteed.
- Suppose a couple agrees they no longer wish to be together, but one relies on the other’s health insurance. A legal separation gives them more freedom to live their own lives, but compassionately allows a spouse to stay on the health plan of the working partner.
- For some people, divorce is forbidden by religious or cultural norms. Although the marriage is over in every sense, taking that legal step would cross a red line that is unacceptable. A legal separation offers an in-between solution.
- If one partner does not have citizenship, staying married may be the only way to avoid deportation.
Reconciling or Divorcing Down the Road
Of course, reconciliation following a legal separation is possible. The judgment is simply set aside, and the marriage continues as before. On the other hand, if the couple ultimately decides on a dissolution of marriage, a simple motion with the court can be filed after 90 days of separation have passed, changing the legal separation into a divorce.
The Downside of Legal Separation
While the benefits of legally separating may appeal to some, it is important to be aware of its limits and possible disadvantages:
- You cannot marry someone else while legally separated from your spouse;
- You still share financial responsibilities, meaning that if your spouse racks up debt, you may be stuck, paying;
- Without rewriting your will or trust, your spouse will automatically inherit in the event that you die.
At Courtney & Mills, our experienced Springfield legal separation attorneys are prepared to assist as you make decisions regarding your future. As always, we will fight for the best possible outcomes for you. Schedule a confidential consultation in our office today.