which first, legal separation or divorce?

Should I Get a Legal Separation First?

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Portland family law attorney, Colin Amos, talks family law and divorce for men. This week he fields a number of calls about divorce, legal separation, and how to get an annulment. One question from a Portland husband and father asks whether a legal separation or a divorce would be a better path to take. He asks:

I have been told that I should get a legal separation first and then get a divorce. Is this true? Does it cost more or less? What are you thoughts on this? 

Colin answers that this is a common misconception and that there are very limited situations that would warrant a legal separation instead of a divorce. As he elaborates in his comments below:

We hear this all the time. Many people believe that a legal separation is a stepping stone to a divorce. What I tell people is that you are just going to pay me twice for the same transaction.

Legal separation is a separate transaction that is almost the same as a divorce. However, at the end of the day, you are only separated and will still need to go through a similar process to covert the legal separation into a divorce.

The process, therefor, has a very limited purpose, for example, people who have religious beliefs that don’t allow them to divorce or people who want to maintain health insurance coverage. But, the process is just as expensive as a divorce if not more expensive.

Colin also covers the following FAQs this episode:

  • When do you need to call a Portland divorce attorney?
  • When I went through divorce, I didn’t fight back and my wife got a default judgment. Is it possible now to change the visitation schedule?
  • My wife and I are ready for a divorce. I don’t think we have anything to fight over. Do we really need a lawyer?
  • Should I get a legal separation first and then get a divorce?
  • I got married in Washington. Does community property mean that all of my property, including my house I have had for 15 years, become my wife’s property?
  • My wife and I have been married for 6 months. Can I get an annulment?
  • My wife defaulted on a divorce. Can I re-open the divorce since it wasn’t finalized?

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