Relationships cannot be treated lightly, let alone a marriage! They are a two way street and there is always a lot that goes into making them work. But truth is, nobody is perfect, and every so often a relationship, or more specifically, a marriage could turn sour. The reasons could be numerous, what’s important is, knowing what you want the end result of the marriage to be. There’s only two ways it could work. Either you work on it and fix it, or you end it. The latter does seem drastic if the problems are not so grave. Filing for a legal separation at times like these is the better way out for sure, especially because it gives you the space to restore the relationship back to what it may have once been. A lot of people are unaware at times, and this could lead to mistakes in the decisions made. So let us first understand the basic distinction between a divorce and legal separation.
Legal Separation Vs. Divorce
The stark difference between a legal separation and a divorce is that when a couple has opted for the former, they are still legally married, whereas being divorced would mean that a marriage has been dissolved altogether. Every now and again a legal separation could act as a means to help resolving differences and other marital issues, but there are no guarantees. There are instances when things work for the worse and the result is divorce. But what is legal separation really? Here’s what it is…
Legal separation in effect refers to validating a state of being separated from one’s spouse while still being married. Occasionally used as a solution to fix a marriage, in a majority of cases, a legal separation acts as nothing more than a buffer and a method to buy time so that important details can be figured out. Money matters, property matters, in case of children, custody matters, the period of legal separation acts as the perfect medium to decide these issues. Another advantage is that reconciliation is way simpler in case of separation especially since according to law, you are still married.
Divorce, on the other hand, is a permanent dissolution of marriage. A step that is way more extreme as opposed to that just mentioned. This is as much a legal process as a separation is, and cannot be gone ahead with, without the countenance of the court. It takes away the marital status of the person, but it does not nullify the marriage. Also, divorce is not permitted or patronized by all religions, and cultures. Thus, in cases like those, legal separation acts as the best solution. So, now that you are aware of the basic difference, we’ll move on to filing for separation.
Filing for Legal Separation
- Very evidently, the first step towards filing for a legal separation is to turn to the services of a good lawyer. There are instances when people will opt to go through handling the procedure themselves, but in situations like that, the bare minimum of the advice of an experienced lawyer is required.
- It is also important to make sure that you meet the residency requirements of the state you live in. Every state has a different system of functioning, and you must find out certain details before you get in to deep into the procedure.
- The next important aspect to keep in mind is that of filing a legal separation agreement, along with the petition. The purpose of this agreement is to cover factors such as child custody, child support, visitation rights, spousal support, and / or all such legalities. The purpose for this agreement normally is so that there is concrete documentation if the separation were to lead to divorce.
- Ongoing through the procedure mentioned thus far, the petition needs to be served on your spouse, unless it is being filed jointly. Once your spouse has been served with the petition, he / she has a certain amount of time to respond to it. Upon agreement from both parties involved, a notarized signature of both parties is required in order to be provided to the court. However, if for any reason, the petition isn’t accepted, a counter petition may be filed.
- If everything is acceptable to all parties involved, the separation agreement must be signed and submitted to the judge. This agreement will get reviewed by the judge, and then filed with the county clerk.
Every state may have certain specifications that it works too, hence, it is of utmost importance to clarify all such details before getting into the procedure. Now that you know the filing process, all you need to wait for is the completion of processing. As far as possible though, try to save your marriage from getting to that point in the first place.