If you and your spouse have concluded that marriage is no longer right for the both of you, then you’ve probably considered a divorce. Before you take the drastic action of filing for divorce, you and your spouse might benefit from a legal separation first. A legal separation is an agreement that is signed by both spouses that details issues such as child custody, spousal support, and living arrangements. Pursuing legal separation is beneficial for couples who need a break from each other, as you and your spouse would live separately; this gives couples a final shot to work on their marriage before filing for divorce. 

A legal separation results in couples either mending their marriage, or couples taking the plunge into divorce. Because of the more flexible nature of legal separation when compared to a divorce, some couples make the mistake of not taking this process seriously. Don’t agree to anything in a legal separation agreement that you wouldn’t agree to if you were negotiating a divorce settlement. Here is a guide to help you better understand the intricacies of legal separation.

 

Residency Requirements

Before you or your spouse can file for legal separation, you must both meet your state’s residency requirements. Residency requirements are the same for both legal separation and divorce. To find out if you meet your state’s residency requirements, you can research your state’s divorce laws. 

 

Legal Separation Petition

Once you and your spouse verify that you both meet your state’s residency requirements, you can file a legal separation petition with the court. It’s important to note that not every state recognizes legal separation. To find out if your state recognizes legal separation, you can contact an attorney, use online resources, or reach out to a court clerk. The state of Utah recognizes legal separation, which is also known as “legal maintenance.” 

 

Legal Separation Agreement

After you and your spouse have filed a petition, you will both work on a legal separation agreement. Legal separation agreements can cover child custody, child support, visitation rights, spousal support, disbursement of marital assets, debt payments, and several other issues. If you have minor children, you and your spouse can set boundaries that pertain to who gets to be around the children. For example, if you and your spouse begin to date other people, you can decide if your spouse’s new partner should be allowed near the children. 

 

Counter-Petitions

Clashes in ideas between you and your spouse are bound to unravel during the process of detailing a legal separation agreement. If either you or your spouse doesn’t agree on the provisions outlined in the agreement, you both have the right to file a counter-petition. Once you submit a counter-petition, you and your spouse will have to turn to a judge to settle the issues in which you both weren’t able to agree.

Although legal separation is ideal for couples who want to test out if divorce is right for them, this process can be equally as complicated as divorce. It’s best to work with a divorce attorney who will have your interests in mind. Contact The Ault Firm today to work with an experienced divorce attorney.