If you and your spouse can’t stop arguing and you have both concluded that marriage is no longer right for the two of you, hold off on getting a divorce. Before officially filing for a divorce, it might benefit both you and your spouse to try legal separation first.

Legal separation is an arrangement in which married couples stay married, but they now live separately. This separation status will be formally recognized by the court, and you and your spouse will have to change marital obligations toward each other. Legal separations are essentially an alternative to divorce, but sometimes they are a preview of how life will be after a divorce. 

While a divorce permanently ends a marital relationship, a legal separation will leave your marriage in place. You can ask the court to divide property and debts and to resolve custody issues. Since you and your spouse are still legally husband and wife during a legal separation, this means that you are both entitled to certain protections and benefits. 

Benefits of a Legal Separation 

There are many valid reasons as to why married couples prefer a legal separation over a divorce at first. The most common example is of a couple who needs an extended period of time away from each other, but they aren’t emotionally ready for a divorce yet. A couple may favor legal separation to allow one spouse to continue receiving social security benefits or health insurance coverage from the other spouse’s place of employment. It’s important to note that a divorce will automatically terminate all eligibility for all spousal benefits. 

Taxes and Legal Separation 

Tax consequences are one of the most complicated areas of legal separation. There are some couples who hope to stay married but physically separated as a way to continue to file taxes jointly. However, in certain states, you may be required to file taxes as a single person. 

Obtaining a Legal Separation 

Much like a divorce, you’ll need to meet specific state requirements to qualify for legal separation. The process of a legal separation requires paperwork that’s almost identical to that of divorce petition paperwork. If you and your spouse can agree on the terms of your legal separation, the process will be simplified. A legal separation only lasts for a limited amount of time in most states. In Utah for example, couples can have a legal separation that lasts up to one year. After that time period passes, any legal recognition of the separation will have to be revisited and can be made as part of the final divorce order. This includes alimony and child support.

Legal separation is a complex process that varies from state-to-state. If you were recently married and the partnership didn’t work out, you might be wondering if you and your spouse even qualify for legal separation as newlyweds. How will legal separation laws work if either you or your spouse decides to move to another state? With the help of a veteran divorce attorney, you and your spouse will be able to make the best choices moving forward. Contact our divorce attorneys at The Ault Firm today, and our team will guide you through the legal separation process.