When a marriage turns south, not every couple makes the decision to file for divorce. There are instances where the choice to legally separate rather than dissolve the marriage is made. The thought process may be that a little time apart will put things in perspective, and divorce can be avoided. Or, it may be that there are certain financial or other benefits to remaining married but living separately. In order to make a decision that works for you, an understanding of the difference between divorce and a legal separation is needed.
Three things to know about how a legal separation is different from a divorce include the following:
- Both parties have to agree to the separation, if they do not the Court has the authority to characterize the case as a divorce and issue a decree of dissolution.
- The grounds for divorce are the same as the grounds for a separation, but the end result is that you are still married when the case is complete.
- If you are unable to meet the residency requirements for a divorce, you can file for a legal separation until you do meet the residency requirements.
Because many of the same issues are decided in a legal separation as are decided in a divorce, it is critical to have a game plan for what you want. You will need to establish where the children will live, and come up with a manageable visitation schedule. It is also necessary to determine which parent pays for which expenses, such as day care and health care coverage. The parties are also required to divide their assets, and their debts. And, just like with divorce, you are not obligated to finalize a separation if you change your mind. You are permitted to reconcile and stop the proceedings and the flip side of this coin is that if you decide no longer being married is the answer you can also change your case from separation to divorce. For many, a period of separation and going through the legal gymnastics required to get there makes things become clear. It is usually not long after a separation is filed that one or both of the parties make a decision to either divorce or get back together. If divorce is the ultimate answer, taking time apart can be the emotional push needed to take the next step. For answers to your questions about divorce and separation, call our office today.
For more information about separation or divorce, contact our office. Let us put our experience to work for you. Call The Sampair Group in Phoenix and the West Valley today to schedule your appointment.