Steps to Filing for a Legal Separation
To get a legal separation, couples have to do more than live apart. A legal separation requires couples to go through a process that is almost similar to a divorce.
Legal separation usually involves the same issues that are involved in a divorce, child custody and visitation, alimony and child support and division of marital property and debts. However, in a legal separation, the division of property and debt is not always permitted.
The procedure for getting a legal separation typically involves the following processes;
- Filing papers with the court requesting a separation and proposing the terms.
- Unless both spouses file jointly, one spouse will need to be served with the papers.
- A spouse has a certain amount of time to respond after being served if he or she disagrees with the proposed terms of separation.
- If the other spouse responds, the two can try to reach an agreement on contested issues through negotiation or mediation.
- The agreement is then put in writing and signed by both spouses before being filed with the court.
- If the spouses cannot agree on the contested issues, the case will go before a judge.
- When all the issues are agreed to or decided by the judge, the judge will sign the separation judgment, and the couple will be legally separated.
- A legally separated couple will still be married and either of the spouses will not be free to marry anyone else.
Reasons to Seek Legal Separation.
A couple may prefer separation to divorce because one or both of them hopes to reconcile eventually.
A couple may also prefer separation if one them relies on the other for health insurance. Some health insurance plans will keep a legally separated spouse on the other’s plan.
To qualify for social security benefits and military benefits, a couple should be married for at least 10 years.
Some couples may also pursue separation because divorce conflicts with their religious beliefs.