Legal Separation

Legal separation is typically thought of as being a temporary fix prior to a couple obtaining a divorce. While separation can be temporary if the parties choose to reconcile, the legal separation agreement can also serve as a foundation for the divorce agreement if the parties choose to go forward, making the negotiated terms contained in the agreement permanent. There are many differences between a legal separation agreement and a divorce, such as:

    • The inability to remarry. Because a legal separation does not terminate the parties’ marital relationship, individuals cannot legally enter into a new marriage.
    • Property matters. A couple may agree or petition the court for an order detailing which spouse will be responsible for making mortgage and utility payments. A court may also make a ruling regarding how any checking and savings accounts should be managed during the legal separation. Assets are not divided during a legal separation, only managed.
    • Child/Parenting agreements. When a couple enters into a legal separation, visitation with any children of the marriage is decided, and specifically, where the primary residence shall be, and a schedule for the non-residential parent. This may also include child support.
    • Restraining or protection order information. Legal separations may also include restraining order information if there is any alleged violence in the marriage.

Parties should be mindful that any concessions made in a legal separation agreement have the potential to become permanent if either party files for divorce. Any agreement made to the aforementioned categories should be circumstances each party will be happy with upon divorce. For example, if a party agrees to let the other spouse and children remain in the house, and bi-weekly overnight visitation with the children, a court might affirm that agreement in it’s order down the road.

If you are contemplating a legal separation or if you have been served with paperwork for a legal separation, our office can help. Please contact us today to set up a consultation.

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