Understanding Legal Separation and Its Benefits
A legal separation can be a permanent resolution or the precursor to the total dissolution of a marriage. The process is a court-ordered arrangement permitting a married couple to lead separate lives, including separate finances. The process of legally separating is preferred by couples who are unsure of the salvageability of their marriage but wish to set specific boundaries should divorce follow. These boundaries include:
- Separation of assets
- Child support
- Other financial obligations
A legal separation might also be a requirement for divorce in several states. To learn more about the laws in your area, contact a local divorce attorney.
General Benefits of Separation
While some people might not understand the advantages of a legal separation as opposed to a divorce, there are several. First, legal separations are not as permanent as a divorce, meaning couples hoping for a reunion will find it easier to reverse their course should they so choose. Second, a legal separation does not dissolve the marriage, meaning it does not go against specific religious tenets. Third, a couple might want to retain retirement and healthcare benefits. Finally, many couples find that legal separations are easier on children because the process retains the family unit.
While a legal separation creates an enforceable agreement, many couples opt for private separations without legal interference. These informal separations allow couples to reduce costs while refraining from the prominence of legal proceedings. However, despite the ease of informal separations, legal separation provides protection and requirements for both parties, which are enforceable after the official separation date.
Advantages of Separation Over Divorce for Benefits
Even if a couple is committed to a permanent separation or a future divorce, a legal separation can have its benefits. Many retirement funds, pension, and social security benefits require a couple to be wed for at least ten years for both spouses to benefit. Divorce could eliminate all potential benefits for one spouse if that time frame is not met. A legal separation can help a couple get to a milestone year and secure all benefits for both parties.
Similar to a divorce, a legal separation takes time to complete. Every state is different, meaning the timeline is too. A legal separation can occur within six months to a year of the initial filing date in most situations. The cost of separation also varies by state, between $50 and $300, depending on the complexity of the case.
If you are curious about legal separation in your state, contact a local divorce lawyer to discuss your claim. Most family lawyers will provide a free initial consultation to help you determine your next steps.