Legal separation is distinguished from a divorce in that the marriage is not dissolved between the parties, maintaining the parties’ status as being married. This allows for some benefits that are not allowed after a dissolution. Some spouses are able to maintain health insurance coverage through the spouse they are legal separated from depending upon the employer. There are also certain tax or financial benefits as well depending upon the State in which you reside and your personal financial situation. Military families may be able to maintain some benefits as well if the marriage lasted ten years or more. As with a dissolution of marriage, the courts are able to determine legal decision-making and parenting time for any minor children, as well as establish orders for child support and spousal maintenance. The courts are also capable of dividing assets and debts accrued during the marriage.
Legal separations can be the more desirable option under certain circumstances. Because the legal status of marriage is maintained, those with strong religious beliefs that prohibit or look poorly upon divorce may choose to separate instead. Others file for legal separation if they are unsure if a full dissolution is the correct choice for them yet, if at all and may need some time apart to fully access their relationship. The choice is completely up to the parties involved and varies on a case to case basis.
While legal separations are sometimes the first step towards a dissolution, it is crucial that the separation agreement is made whether or not dissolution is the final goal. A strong and thorough separation agreement can help you avoid being responsible for debt accrued during the period of separation as well as maintain full control over any income earned while separated. If divorce is a possible outcome further in the future, the judge may use the separation agreement as a sort of template for the dissolution agreement which determines parenting rights, debt and asset allocation, and spousal maintenance.
Because a legal separation can affect every aspect of your life, it is imperative that the agreement best suits your interests. A skilled family law attorney can help you prepare and approve an agreement that touches on all of the aspects that affect your situation. The experienced Family Law attorneys at Giordano Spanier & Heckele Law Firm, can assist with any preparations for a Legal Separation or Divorce. Call today for a consultation (520) 339-6804 or email at [email protected]