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What is a legal separation?

Mar 9, 2021 | Legal Separation, Divorce Lawyer

Ending a marriage, especially a long one can be a complicated matter. For some couples, it may not be necessary to rush into a divorce or to get a divorce at all.  However, a legal separation may still a good idea.

In a legal separation, the couple is still technically married but they are living apart. The court still divides the marital assets and debts and still issues order for spousal maintenance (alimony), child support, and custody (now known as legal decision-making and parenting time.)  Once a legal separation is filed, you stop sharing the responsibility for future debts and you stop sharing any future assets that are acquired by one spouse.

Why not get a divorce?

Couples may shy away from divorce for religious reasons.  Others may wish to try and keep the family at least somewhat together. Some couples recognize that a divorce would cause a spouse to lose health insurance and so they choose to stay married for that reason. If this is your reason for choosing separation, make sure you double check with your health insurance carrier to be sure they will still insure you if you are legally separated but not divorced.

How do you get a legal separation?

Most separations start on a trial basis. You take a break from living together to see if you can reconcile your differences and make it work. Once you get beyond that point and decide that continuing the relationship as married is not working, you should contact an attorney to seek a legal separation.

A legal separation starts with a petition to a family court. Just like in a divorce, parties who are legally separating will have the option of settling their case out of court and reaching a settlement agreement that governs the terms of their legal separation.  The downside of a legal separation is that the parties are still married and therefore they are not be allowed to remarry.  On the other hand, however, a legal separation can be converted to a divorce at a later date if either spouse decides that he or she now wants to be divorced.

No matter which direction you choose to go, it’s important to get the opinion of a trusted attorney. Their experience will be necessary in leading you through the process.

Pangerl Law Firm P.L.L.C. focuses on divorce, child custody, mother’s and father’s rights, child support, and all other areas of family law, as well as personal injury claims. Our office is located in Deer Valley and serves the greater Phoenix area, including the communities of Scottsdale, Peoria, Glendale, Cave Creek, Avondale, Goodyear, Surprise, Mesa, Tempe, Anthem, New River, North Phoenix and Phoenix. For more information, call: 602-942-6200.