Ending a long marriage doesn’t necessarily require parties to divorce; legal separation can also be an option. This might be something you are considering for several reasons, from religious beliefs to wanting to maintain a good quality of life. If you are interested in a legal separation, there are some essential things to know.
What the process looks like
The process of legally separating is similar to a divorce, though there are crucial differences.
First, you will file the necessary form, which is a petition for legal separation. Then, you will work through many of the same issues you would if you were divorcing. These issues include:
- Creating a parenting plan
- Assigning custody rights
- Calculating support
- Dividing property and debts
In most cases, people can work out these details themselves with their attorneys and a mediator. If you cannot come to agreements on your own outside of court, a judge will need to make decisions on unresolved matters.
What life after separation can look like
Upon finalization of your legal separation, life can look much like it would if you divorced. You will live separately from your ex and have a new marital status. And you will need to comply with court orders regarding support and custody or face enforcement actions and penalties.
However, there are crucial distinctions between life after legal separation and life after divorce.
When you legally separate, you can date and move in with new partners. However, you cannot remarry without first divorcing.
While you are legally separated, you can continue to receive things like health insurance coverage from your ex’s employer and preserve military benefits.
You and your ex can continue with the separation indefinitely. However, you could also decide to reconcile and continue the marriage, or after six months, either party could petition the courts to convert the separation to a divorce.
Is legal separation right for you?
People who pursue separation want to part ways in an organized way without legally ending the marriage. However, remember that it is a legal process, just like divorce. Thus, guidance from attorneys, financial professionals and counselors can help you navigate life during and after legal separation.