How does Legal Separation work? Unlike a divorce, separation does not mean the end of your marriage; it simply means that you and your spouse choose to live separate lives while remaining legally married. The intent of a separation is to work out an agreement and/or court order, for things like the division of your assets, child custody, visitation, and support. This court order aims to protect your interests until you reconcile, file for divorce, or the death of either party. (It may be helpful to read our page on “Divorce” as all the same rules of law and procedures are followed in a Legal Separation as in a Dissolution of Marriage.)
A separation is not a necessary step in obtaining a divorce. However, if the decision to divorce is made down the road a judge may decide that since you were satisfied with your legal separation agreement, the same arrangement should carry over to the divorce settlement agreement. It is for this reason you will want to consult with an experienced Seattle family law attorney.
Here are some typical reasons we see people looking for a separation:
- It allows couples time apart, away from the conflict of the marriage to decide if divorce is what they truly want.
- It may allow for the retention of medical benefits and certain other benefits that divorce would bring to an end.
- If your religious beliefs conflict with the idea of divorce, you are able to live separately and retain your marital status.
- If you are a military spouse, you may wish to remain married for 10 years so that you can take advantage of the benefits set up by the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act.
- Remaining married for 10 years or more also means being able to take advantage of certain social security benefits for a spouse.
- If the decision to divorce is made, the separation agreement can likely be converted into a divorce settlement agreement.
Many legal separations bring to the table a host of complicated and sometimes highly contested issues, which range from child support and custody to business ownership and investments. At Goldberg Jones our legal separation lawyers have been representing husbands and fathers in obtaining a Oregon State legal separation agreement for over 13 years. When couples legally separate but don’t file for divorce, their marriage is in a sort of limbo. A lot can happen during this stage of separation, so you will want to make sure you have appropriate representation.